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Violent Crime Reaches Highest Level Since 2007, Contributing to Surge in Police-Reported Crime


Police-reported crime in Canada rose for the second year in a row, with violent crime reaching its highest point since 2007.

in a report released ThursdayStatistics Canada researchers found that violent crime rose five percent in 2022, after a six percent increase in 2021, using the Crime Severity Index (CSI), one of the tools the federal agency uses to Track the volume and severity of reports. crimes

The increase may be a sign that crime is returning to an upward trend that researchers observed before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, said Warren Silver, an analyst at Statistics Canada.

“During the pandemic, due to stay-at-home restrictions, a lot of crime has been reduced or decreased, and a lot of it was driven by non-violent crime,” he said.

“It may be too early to say if this is just a reset or if we are going back to where things were before. But what we can say is that this follows five years of overall increase, with the pandemic disrupting trends.” .”

According to Statistics Canada, crime in 2020 showed a “marked” decline in overall volume and severity after lockdown restrictions were first put in place. Prior to that, the CSI had been rising for five consecutive years, starting in 2015.

Most provinces and territories, with the exception of New Brunswick, Yukon, and Nunavut, saw increases in CSI from 2021 to 2022. Manitoba saw the largest increase at 14%, followed by Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, and Prince’s Island. Eduardo, all of whom experienced an increase. six percent increase.

‘Right to be concerned’

Compared to the 2021 data, higher rates of homicide and sexual assault were recorded last year, with robbery and extortion being the highest with increases of 15 and 39 percent, respectively.

Police reported 874 homicides in 2022, 78 more than the previous year. The overall rate rose 8 percent to 2.25 homicides per 100,000 residents, the highest rate since 1992, the agency said.

Indigenous and racialized peoples were overrepresented in crimes of violence and homicide, the report says, with police reporting 225 indigenous and 265 victims of racialized homicide in 2022.

Laura MacDiarmid, an assistant professor of justice studies at the University of Guelph Humber in Toronto, says that people of color face a history of colonization and racism that still “continues.”

“Those contribute to the … entrenchment in the criminal justice system,” MacDiarmid said.

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Statistics Canada also found long-term increases in certain crimes. In 2022, the rate of fraud, identity theft and identity theft reported by police was 78% higher than the previous decade.

Similarly, the extortion rate was five times higher in 2022 than in 2012, rising from five to 25 incidents per 100,000 residents, the agency said.

“I think it’s concerning,” Irvin Waller, emeritus professor of criminology at the University of Ottawa, said of the overall rise in violent crime.

“We have a serious problem with violence in Canada. The public is right to be concerned about that,” he said.

While non-violent crime rose four percent last year, it remained at a lower rate than 2021’s six percent increase. Statistics Canada said much of the increase in 2022 was due to higher crime rates. against property, including vehicle theft at 24 percent, shoplifting at 31 percent and petty theft at 10 percent.

However, crime rates did not increase across the board. Nonviolent crime rates, such as drug offenses, drink driving, identity fraud, and identity theft, have decreased since 2021.

But Waller said that these crimes are influenced by the number of police officers who are in the field or assigned to a particular problem, and the decrease is not indicative of an improvement in the issue overall.

The same is true of the three percent increase in Level 1 sexual assault, which involves minor physical injury or no injury to the victim, he said, adding that crimes involving sexual assault and intimate partner violence for starters are not reported.

“These statistics are not a foolproof way of measuring what’s going on,” Waller said.

An officer collects evidence from the crime scene.
A Toronto police officer collects evidence from the scene of a shooting. A new report from Statistics Canada says violent crime is at its highest point since 2007. (Greg Hobbs/CBC)

Focus on prevention

While the data shows some of what is happening on the ground, it does not provide a complete picture.

MacDiarmid says that many people who are victims of crime choose not to report to the police, and what is reported may be inherently skewed by excessive surveillance by police services in certain areas over others.

“It’s important … to assess what this means in light of that,” MacDiarmid said.

MacDiarmid says that society is likely still to see the effects of the isolation and lack of social services that stemmed earlier from the COVID-19 pandemic, causing some of the numbers to rise.

To stay ahead of the problem, the criminal justice system can focus more efforts on prevention rather than “reaction-based” measures, he said.

“We need to put our efforts into things like education, job opportunities,” he said.

Waller adds that solutions to lower the crime rate lie in decreased policing, community programs targeting at-risk youth and families, and providing funding for more experts in the field to become involved in policy making and programs at all levels of government.

“I think it’s important that even if we don’t know with 100 percent certainty why it’s going up, we know for sure what would go down,” Waller said.

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