They come with more caveats than an over-the-counter libido booster, but Canada’s national crime statistics will be delivered Wednesday, July 22. The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, a branch of Statistics Canada, will reveal its yearly compilation of data, part of the Juristat, from which much will be inferred that should not or can not. Much will be written that misleads, misinterprets and miscalculates what the numbers tell us. There’s much more that these frail figures do not tell us than what they reveal.
There’s a perplexing – perhaps alarming – statistic in new national crime figures released today by Statistics Canada. The numbers show that Kingston, in eastern Ontario, now has the highest sexual assault rate of the 33 biggest Canadian urban centres in StatsCan’s crime survey. The sexual assault rate in Kingston (the number of crimes reported to police, factored for population) skyrocketed by 34 per cent from 2011 to 2012. The rate in Kingston for 2012 is 97. Winnipeg, now the most violent city in Canada overall, based on the latest violent crime severity index, is second to Kingston in sexual assault rate at 91.
Canada’s penitentiary capital, home to some of the country’s vilest (incarcerated) citizens, is now home to the nation’s top crime busters, according to Statistics Canada. The national number crunching agency has released its annual report (full doc after the jump) that tracks the size, spending and crime-solving prowess of all of the country’s police departments. The municipal police service in Kingston, Ontario, population roughly 120,000, solved 47.8% of the roughly 7,300 crimes reported in 2009, according to StatsCan. This means that they can boast that they’re number 1 among big city police departments.
There’s a troubling number missing from the latest report from Statistics Canada on criminal victimization. I went looking for the figure because it was there in the last version of the report, in 2004 – it showed that just 8% of all sexual assaults in 2004 were reported to police, a puny 42,000 assaults reported among the total of 512,000 committed. Expressed another way, less than 1 out of every 10 sexual assaults committed was reported to police. It is a pitiful and shameful statistic, a reflection of the fact that despite decades of progress in dealing with sexual abuse and exploitation, authorities have done little to make the process of reporting abuse and confronting abusers less frightening and intimidating. The vast majority of victims still suffer in silence. Statistics Canada refuses to release the figure for 2009 (more on that after the jump). What if things are getting worse? What if they are getting much worse? I’ve produced a disturbing statistic that suggests, if the number is valid, that far fewer sexual assault victims are reporting to police.
In just 3 days we’ll find out if Tory cabinet minister Stockwell Day was fibbing, or perhaps ad-libbing, or perhaps he’s prescient – when he said in August that the amount of crime that Canadians do not report to authorities is increasing. Day trotted out that strange non sequitur during a news conference when he was asked to justify the billions more the Conservatives plan to spend on prisons because of an agenda that will put many more people behind bars for longer periods. In 3 days, Statistics Canada will release a significant report that will reveal how much unreported crime is out there.
Want to stay safe from violent crime in Canada? Statistics Canada has published a veritable guide to how to do it, with the release today of a new study.
The first bit of advice about avoiding being a victim of violence is simple. Just be yourself. You don’t really have to do anything, because the numbers are pretty clear.
Ninety-five per cent of Canadians were not a victim of violent crime in the one-year study period (2003). That’s right, all violent crime befell just five per cent (that’s right, 5%) of the population. It means, of course, that statistically speaking, your chance of being a victim of violent crime is very low.
Statistics Canada’s new weighted system for tracking the rate at which Canadian police solve crimes crowns the regional police service in Codiac, New Brunswick, an RCMP detachment, as tops in the country. Codiac police solved 46% of crimes in 2008, according to the latest Police Resources in Canada report (released December 14, 2009).
There may be some anxiety among police departments across Canada today. The latest clearance figures – numbers that show how many crimes police solve – will be released today by Statistics Canada, but with a twist. StatsCan has revised the way it calculates the numbers to better take into account the amount of work that goes into solving serious crimes, and to better factor the relative unimportance of solving the least serious crimes, which can be almost impossible to solve. It means a police agency will get more credit in StatsCan’s figures for solving crimes like murder, sexual assault and robbery than cracking bicycle thefts and break-ins. This is where the anxiety comes in. Some police departments may have been traditionally great at solving those minor crimes and not so great at solving the serious stuff. Their overall clearance rate may be about to take a dive. John Turner, head of the policing section of StatsCan tells me that overall, national clearance rates won’t change that much, but there may be some shifts when comparing police departments. For the purposes of justifying big budgets, some departments like to trot out those numbers. Nationally, police solve four out of every 10 crimes. Check out the results in last year’s report, Police Resources in Canada report, which also documents police strength and spending.
Here’s an interesting contrast. A new Statistics Canada survey reveals that in 2008, there were 3,233 full-time employees working in victim services.
There were roughly 65,000 full-time police officers at work in Canada in 2008.
It’s a sobering reminder that our emphasis in criminal justice in this country is on catching bad guys. We worry far less about the carnage left behind in battered bodies, broken families and shattered psyches.
There’s a big problem with the new scheme to count crimes in Canada. The country’s official number crunching agency, Statistics Canada, unveiled the crime severity index today. It’s the first serious revision to the country’s sanctioned, national crime tracking system in roughly half a century.