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.
Stockwell Day had it right, according to Statistics Canada. The latest victimization survey, released today, shows that 31% of all crimes were reported to police in the survey period, compared to 34% reporting in the last survey five years ago. Day cited the increase in “unreported crime,” as he called it, as a factor in...
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.
Canada’s official crime statistics, the numbers released annually by Statistics Canada, have undergone a historic, but virtually overlooked, transformation. For the first time in nearly 50 years, the stats reflect raw data provided by virtually every police department, meaning StatsCan is able to release a more complete inventory of crimes. In the past, some offences were rolled into broad categories, meaning, for example, that you couldn’t see how many criminal harassment cases came to the attention of investigators – more than 20,000 last year (see the entire list after the jump).
Stockwell Day, the Conservative cabinet minister who is being skewered for his answers today to questions about the government’s plans to spend billions more on new prisons, when police-reported crime rates are declining, got something dead right. Day was bang on when he said lots of crime goes unreported. That’s wholly, completely, totally accurate. The problem is, unreported crime has absolutely nothing – nadda, zippo, zilch – to do with plans to build more prisons and lock up more people for longer sentences. And that’s Day’s big problem, because he drew a big, fat intersecting line from one to the other, as if they were shadow and shape in a kid’s activity book matching game.
So what does it mean that Quesnel, a tiny city of about 10,000 people in the Cariboo District of central British Columbia, has the most severe violent crime in Canada? That dubious distinction is documented in this new ranking of 208 Canadian municipalities with populations of 10,000 or more, released this week by Statistics Canada. It is based on police-reported crime for 2009. The unwelcome honour bothers Quesnel Mayor Mary Sjostrom, but she doesn’t believe it means her community is unsafe.
Winnipeg, Manitoba has snatched from Regina, Saskatchewan the title of Canada’s (big city) violent crime capital. New figures released today by Statistics Canada show Winnipeg’s violent crime severity index is 187, double the national figure of 93.7. The violent crime severity index measures the severity of crimes reported to police. Among roughly 210 Canadian communities with populations of 10,000 or more, the centre with the most severe violent crime index isn’t a big city.
It’s not often that police will confide they have no idea how much crime is going on in their communities. But that’s exactly what the cops who patrol tiny Napanee, Ontario (population about 15,000) did today, when they put out a news release (reproduced in full after the jump). Of course, police didn’t issue the info to make a political statement about the relative meaninglessness of official crime stats, but that’s the byproduct conclusion of what they revealed.