Halloween crime is still a problem for police across Canada, according to Statistics Canada. The national number crunching agency has released another analysis of scary crime data showing that during Halloween 2014, property crime reports to police skyrocketed roughly 52 per cent from a week earlier. Other crimes spiked, but not at the dramatic rate for property offences. Across all categories, crime reports to police increased 4.5 per cent at Halloween 2014.
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.
The rate at which Canadians are being murdered dropped in 2013 to its lowest level in 47 years, according to Statistics Canada. Nationally, there were 1.44 victims per 100,000 people in 2013, down eight per cent from 1.56 in 2012 and the lowest rate recorded since 1966. In 2013, 505 people were killed (includes murder, manslaughter, infanticide) in Canada, meaning that a nation of 35 million people had fewer killings than Los Angeles County (population 10 million), which recorded 595 homicides in 2013. The murder rate in the U.S. has generally been about three times higher than the rate in Canada for some time. Canada’s highest murder rate recorded since 1963 was in 1977, when it hit 3.0, according to StatsCan.
Carmen Robinson should be 56, a greying boomer, perhaps an early retiree discovering the joy of life untethered from the daily grind. Time to sip mid morning lattes. Time to lounge with a favourite book. Time for family. Instead, Carmen (inset) is a smiling snapshot, a memory, a life with no conclusion. She also is a statistic, one of thousands of unsolved murders that have been accumulating in Canada in the past half century. Carmen was just 17 when she stepped off a bus a few blocks from her home in Victoria, British Columbia, on December 8, 1973. She vanished and was, it is presumed, murdered. Her body has not been found and her killer remains unknown.
There’s plenty of intriguing and heartening news in the latest national crime report. This week, Statistics Canada released its annual compendium of data, based on information provided to hundreds of police departments across the country. Many media reports seized on the simple, big-picture stats: the overall crime rate reached its lowest level since the early 1970s. It would be wrong to key on this as the most important finding. It may be the least useful statistic and likely tells us absolutely nothing about whether the true level of crime has declined in the past 40 years and whether communities are any safer now than they were in the 70s.
Robert Pickton isn’t just a murderous deviant – he’s also a statistical aberration. He’s one of a handful of serial killers who have operated in Canada over an extended period of time, racking up a significant toll in victims. His body count, in a nation where there’s fewer than two murders a day on average, has the instant effect of swelling Canada’s homicide totals noticeably. Statistics Canada acknowledged this seven years ago, when it released its detailed, annual report on murders across the country in 2002, though it did not identify Pickton by name.
Pity the poor superintendent – he knows not what he does. At least, that’s how it looks to me. A senior officer in the Ontario Provincial Police, Supt. Gary Couture, an officer of sufficient rank that you’d expect him to know better than to wade into dangerous territory with a wonky claim, has stepped in a pile full.
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.