Welcome to my Crime and Justice blog! I am a 19 year old criminal justice student at the University of Winnipeg. I advocate for prisoners' rights, human rights, equality and criminal justice/prison system reforms.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Winnipeg has the highest rate of knife-related violence

They're still there on her lower back, two scars that tell the story of the night she was stabbed.
Charisse Fredette, 19, is one of over 1,000 Winnipeggers who was robbed, threatened or attacked with a knife in 2008. The city led the country in violent crimes involving a knife, according to a Statistics Canada study released Tuesday.

Ranking the cities

What cities have high rates of knife-related violence?
Winnipeg: 10.2 per cent of total victims (1,015 victims)
Regina: 10 per cent (349)
Edmonton: 9.8 per cent (1,361)
Saskatoon: 8.7 per cent (401)
Greater Sudbury: 8.6 per cent (147)
Calgary: 8.5 per cent (804)
Vancouver: 7.3 per cent (2,098)
Victims of violent crime committed with knives, like robberies and assaults. Includes cities over 100,000 people.
-- Source: Statistics Canada
The report says that knives -- or other sharp objects like broken bottles, screw drivers, scissors or nail guns -- are the most common weapons used across Canada in violent crimes like assaults and robberies.
For victims like Fredette, the experience was terrifying.
"You don't feel nothing at first. Then you feel a sharp pain," said Fredette, who was stabbed on the Slaw Rebchuk Bridge in August 2008 by a man and a teenage girl. "I was scared for my organs inside, if they hit that, or if they hit my spine.
"I think about it all the time, like at night when I'm walking around... I don't trust nobody."
In Winnipeg, 10 per cent of all victims of violent crimes were either injured or threatened by someone with a knife. That's higher than the national average of six per cent.
Guns are involved in about two per cent of all violent crimes in Canada.
The cities with the highest rates of knife violent are located in Western Canada, with Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver all trailing Winnipeg.
Statistics Canada senior analyst Mia Dauvergne said the rate of violent crimes involving knives stayed "relatively stable" over the last decade.
It's the first time that Statistics Canada has done a study specifically on knives and violent crime in Canada, following a spate of high-profile knife-related attacks like the Greyhound bus beheading of Tim McLean in July 2008. The report uses statistics that police across the country collected in 2008.
The report also notes that youths and young adults -- from 12 to 24 years old -- are most likely to commit violent crime with knives.
"Youth and young adults may use knives instead of other weapons such as firearms, because they are readily accessible and more easily concealed," said the report.
For example, a 13-year-old girl who is currently facing a charge of assault with a weapon in connection with a North End stabbing last December told the Free Press she hurt another girl after her friend gave her a kitchen knife. She said she can't recall her precise motivations for the attack, but now regrets it.
"I was mad," she said.
The girl is still before the courts and has no contact with the victim.
Winnipeg Police Service spokesman Const. Jason Michalyshen said it may be easier for people to obtain weapons like knives, compared with guns.
In Fredette's case, she didn't realize she'd been stabbed until she walked about a block and felt a sharp pain, blood soaking her black sweater. She recovered at hospital but now avoids walking alone at night around the city's core area. She survived the ordeal after friends chased the pair of attackers off.
Meanwhile, Statistics Canada said Manitoba also led the country in robberies in 2008. There were 158 recorded robberies per 100,000 people -- more than second-place Saskatchewan at 128, British Columbia at 123 and Alberta at 105.
All other provinces were below 100 per 100,000 people.

In 2008, violent crimes committed with a knife, accounted for 6% of all violent incidents. 
Homicides and attempted murders had the highest proportion of incidents involving knives (1/3rd)
Knife violence was highest in Winnipeg, Regina and Edmonton at about 10% of all violent crimes. 

Just because this report says that there is more knife violence in Winnipeg, does not mean that crime is increasing. Crime rates have been decreasing for the past 30 years, even violent crimes. It also does not mean that Winnipeg is any less safe than it used to be. The facts remain that most victims of violence know their attacker, as a family member, friend or acquaintance. Violence between strangers is rare, but it does happen.

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