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.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Crime rate hit a 30 year low in 2007

OTTAWA – New statistics suggest serious criminal offences were on the decline well before the federal Conservative government launched its anti-crime campaign in Parliament.
The figures, reported by Statistics Canada on Tuesday, indicate police-reported crime was less serious overall in 2007, the year after the Tories took office, than it was a decade earlier. The agency says the crime rate had also dropped, but to a lesser degree.
The agency's new Police-reported Crime Severity Index tracks changes in the severity of reported crimes by assigning each offence a weight, with more serious crimes such as robberies and break-ins given higher rankings.
Traditional statistics have looked at the numbers of crimes, rather than rating their seriousness.
The report says the index – billed as the first of its kind anywhere – suggests crime severity fell by about 20 per cent during the decade, driven by a 40 per cent drop in break-ins.
The Tories under Prime Minister Stephen Harper have campaigned on promises to get tough on crime and have introduced a number of bills in Parliament to address what they characterize as a growing problem.
Harper has been ramping up his tough-on-crime message recently and opposition parties are, for the most part, going along with the Conservative agenda as public opinion polls suggest Canadians support the measures.
All parties have agreed to expedite anti-gang legislation and they all support a recent bill to eliminate the so-called two-for-one practice, whereby judges often give offenders double credit for time served in pre-trial custody.
Fifty-seven per cent of respondents to a recent poll by The Canadian Press Harris-Decima believed crime is increasing, despite statistics to the contrary.

Only 10 per cent said the crime rate has decreased over the last couple of years, as is actually the case. Thirty per cent said they believe it has remained relatively stable.
Statistics Canada has reported that the national crime rate dipped to its lowest level in 30 years in 2007, the most recent year for which data are available.
Statistics Canada says the seriousness of police-reported crime fell in every year but one during the decade leading up to the 2006 election of the Conservative minority government, through 2007. Violent crime – a cornerstone of the Tory agenda – stayed relatively stable during the decade, the agency reported.
There were fluctuations, however.
For example, the agency reports the violent crime severity index rose by four per cent that between 2004 and 2006. There were increases in many serious violent crimes during this period, including attempted murder and aggravated assault, the most serious form of assault.
The agency says these increases were not picked up in the violent crime rate, due to a decline in minor assaults, the highest-volume violent crime.
Crime severity fell in every province during the 10-year period, with the largest declines in Ontario and Quebec.
Police-reported crime rates have generally been higher in the West and North than in eastern and central regions of the country, StatsCan reports, and this is also true for crime severity. Saskatchewan, Manitoba and British Columbia had crime severity index values well above the other provinces in 2007.
Ontario and Quebec have had the lowest police-reported crime rates in recent years, but Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick had the lowest values of seriousness.
Among cities, overall crime severity was highest in Regina in 2007, at about twice the national average, although it has been declining in recent years. It was followed by Saskatoon and Winnipeg.
Crime was less serious overall in Toronto in 2007 than in either Montreal or Vancouver, the report says. In fact, it was well below the national average and the lowest of 27 surveyed cities.
Vancouver's index was well above the national average and sixth highest of all metropolitan areas.

Crime rate drop won't halt crackdown: Minister
OTTAWA–Police-reported crime continued to decline in 2008, Statistics Canada said in a report Tuesday.
But a steadily dropping crime rate will not deter the federal Conservative government from cracking down on criminal activities, says Justice Minister Rob Nicholson.
Both the traditional crime rate, and Statistics Canada's so-called crime severity index, fell five per cent last year as the volume of police-reported crime and its average severity decreased.
Still, the Tories will continue to press the opposition parties in the House of Commons to pass anti-crime legislation when Parliament resumes in the fall, says Nicholson.
"We don't govern on the latest statistics," the minister told The Canadian Press in a telephone interview.
"What level it's at right now, it's unacceptable, and we are committed to disrupting ... criminal activity."
Violent crime also dropped in 2008, but to a lesser extent than the overall decline.
There were about 77,000 fewer reported crimes in 2008, including 28,000 fewer thefts of $5,000 and under, 22,000 fewer break-ins and 20,000 fewer motor-vehicle thefts, StatsCan reported.
Crime severity was down in virtually all provinces, with the largest decline reported in Manitoba.
However, Manitoba continued to have the highest homicide rate among provinces in 2008. That prompted the province's attorney general Tuesday to promise to hire more police, and to take action to target the worst offenders.
Manitoba's murder rate was 50 per cent higher than second-place Alberta.
And despite a 44 per cent drop in vehicle theft, Winnipeg continues to have the highest rate of stolen automobiles in Canada.
The one notable exception to the reduced overall crime rates was a seven per cent increase on Prince Edward Island.
About one in five crimes reported to police is violent. There were 3,500 fewer reported violent incidents in 2008, including 2,000 fewer robberies.
Homicides, which make up less than one per cent of violent crime, were one of the few violent crimes to increase in 2008.
The police-reported crime rate for youth aged 12 to 17 fell five per cent in 2008, the fourth decline in five years. The youth violent crime rate, which declined three per cent, has been relatively stable since 2000.
The minority Conservatives in Ottawa have been pushing their anti-crime agenda hard this spring, introducing 11 pieces of legislation. Just one of the bills passed, increasing penalties for people convicted of gang-related murders.
Nicholson noted his anti-drug legislation saw only a couple of days of debate in the Senate before parliamentarians left Ottawa for the summer.
"I was very disappointed about that," said Nicholson.
"(The bill would have imposed) mandatory jail terms for people who, for instance, are bringing drugs into this country."

The crime rate is decreasing yet the Conservatives are still pushing for more tough on crime measures and policies which will only cause further prison overcrowding and longer sentences will increase chances of re-offending, which makes society more dangerous not safer. Doesn't make sense to me. Maybe they should listen to the research. 

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