Crime in Canada is at its lowest in 40 years. Officials in Canada's highest crime areas use a multifaceted strategy to keep crime down.
Crime in Canada is at its lowest in 40 years according to a report published by Statscan on Thursday. Crimes reported dropped five percent and severity of crime dropped six percent reaching its lowest rate since law enforcement began measuring severity in 1998. Decreases were reported in homicide, attempted murder, assaults, and robbery. British Columbia and Regina, Saskatchewan are benchmarks showing continued progress by Canadian law enforcement.
There were 544 homicides in Canada in 2010, down from 600 in 2009. The national decline can be attributed to a decrease in homicides in British Columbia, according to Statscan. The rate of homicides is higher than the national average but at an all time low for the province.
For the last 20 years Canada’s crime rate has been on the decline and is now at it’s lowest level since 1973, the report states. Violent crimes are down – the Crime Severity Index dropped to its lowest point since 1998.
Historically, Regina has had the highest crime rates in Canada in both occurrences and severity. But even Regina has seen a reduction in crime rates Regina Police Service (RPS) spokesperson Elizabeth Popowich told Security Management on Thursday. Regina’s crime rated dropped eight percent from 2009 to 2010, making the crime rate the lowest since 1991. In fact, it is leading the charge; that rate was more than twice the reduction for the whole country, according to materials distributed at a press conference Thursday.
“Probably the most impressive of collaborative initiatives has been the Regina Auto Theft Strategy, started in 2001,” Popowich said. The strategy is a collaboration between Regina Police Service, the ministries of provincial government responsible for youth corrections, the Ministry of Justice, and community-based groups.
In Regina, crime prevention programs focus on changing the behavior of both offenders and potential victims. Using this holistic approach, RPS reduced vehicle theft in Regina 72 percent in 10 years, for example.
“We found that the majority of our vehicle thefts were being committed by a small group of individuals, often youth who, if not interrupted in their behavior, quickly became chronic repeat offenders. With our partners, we wanted to intervene with the first-time offenders offering them help - alternative measures and supports - to stop their criminal activity,” Popwich said.
The strategy included curfew checks, social programs, and early interventions. There was also a campaign to educate the public about the need to protect their assets by using alarms and locking up valuables. RPS also worked with the justice system to ensure punishments levied would be ones that would deter similar behavior in the future.
Regina Police chief Troy Hagen said he’s pleased with the steady reductions of the crime rate, but there’s still much work to do. Other offenses, including sexual assault, discharge of a firearm, child pornography and drug offenses, saw increases nationally. Street robberies still pose a problem for RPS, Popowich said.
Solutions to these problems seem more elusive. RPS efforts at public education and enforcement are having some effect, but law enforcement agencies still aren’t seeing the reduction that they’ve seen in other areas, she said.
“Our progress speaks to our approach as a police service but also to our community’s ability to work collaboratively, and the results are apparent,” Hagen said.
Other highlights from the report:
• 79 percent of crimes reported to police were nonviolent crimes. Two-thirds of those were mischief and break-ins.
• Drug reports are up 10 percent, half of which were for marijuana.
• Regina reported the highest Crime Severity Index, followed by Saskatoon and Winnipeg.
• 153,000 youth between the ages of 12 and 17 were accused of a crime in 2010, almost 15,000 fewer than in 2009.
• Since 2010: Vehicle theft in Regina dropped 71.8 percent, violent crime dropped 19 percent, breaking and entering dropped 64 percent.
photo by Vaska037 from flickr