Crime rates in Canada

Crime rates in Canada, Crime rate continues to drop across Canada. There were fewer homicides, attempted murders, serious assaults and robberies across Canada in 2010, according to a Statistics Canada report released Thursday.

Despite the numbers, which showed a consistent four-year downward trend in violent crime, the office of Justice Minister Rob Nicholson downplayed the figures.

“We don’t use these statistics as an excuse not to get tough on criminals,” said spokeswoman Pamela Stephens.
But Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett said the government’s tough-on-crime agenda is divorced from the reality of crime in Canada.

“The Harper government’s ideologically driven crime agenda is outrageously costly and completely out of line with crime in Canada,” she said. “The crime rate is constantly going down, but the expenditures from prisons are going through the roof.”

Crimes committed in Canada were down five per cent in 2010, according to Statistics Canada. The most serious crimes are also down six per cent.

However, sexual assaults, use of a firearm, criminal harassment, child pornography and drug offences have increased slightly.

“From the government’s perspective, crime going down is probably an embarrassment,” said Anthony Doob, a criminologist at the University of Toronto. “For the rest of us, it’s probably a nice thing to have less crime in our community.”

Doob said crime rates and punishment policy are not linked.

“The one thing we know with any kind of certainty is that [a falling crime rate[ doesn’t have much to do with policies related to punishment,” said Doob. “Sending more people to prison may reduce the likelihood that they’re committing offences while they’re in prison but, if anything, it increases the likelihood that they’ll commit offences after they’ve been released.”

According to Statistics Canada, every province reported a decrease in violent crime except Newfoundland and Labrador, where police reported a 13 per cent increase.

In 2009, there were 801 attempted murders in Canada, but 2010 saw only 693, making last year’s rate the lowest for this offence in over 30 years.

As in the past, most crimes (79%) were non-violent. That includes theft under $5,000, mischief and break-ins.

In an email, Stephens said, “Canadians have given our government a strong mandate to tackle crime and protect Canadians. We intend to deliver what Canadians want and to fulfil our promise to stand up for victims and law-abiding Canadians.”

Bennett said the government should reconsider the omnibus crime bill it will table this fall, and she called on the government to inform the public of the real cost of its tough-on-crime legislation.

“There is no evidence to justify this mega-costly, mega-prisons agenda that this government is putting forward,” she said. “Now that the true costs of this agenda are starting to be revealed, Canadians deserve to see all the costs associated with these U.S.-style mega-prisons.”

She said the cost of the federal prison system has gone up 86% since Harper took power in 2006, a budget hike of over a billion dollars annually.

NDP Public Safety critic Jasbir Sandhu said “the Conservative crime agenda is an a outdated American model, and a huge cost to taxpayers.”

Sandhu said the NDP would seek to reduce crime further by funding crime-prevention programs, supporting front-line police, and running youth programs. He said his party would also like to “make it easier for courts to prosecute the worst offenders such as gang leaders and recruiters.”

Bennett agreed that money would be better spent on policing, crime prevention and rehabilitation programs within prisons.

“What we don’t need is a one-sided approach that focuses exclusively on punishment, usually to the detriment of the communities such policies claim to be protecting,” Bennett said.


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