Copyright © 2000. All Rights Reserved
by Tom Babin
Crime decreases for eighth straight year
Crime decreased again in Canada in 1999 for the eighth straight year, resulting in the lowest rate in 20 years, according to numbers released by Statistics Canada earlier this week.
Violent crime, youth crime, stolen vehicles and break-ins were all down, and the national murder rate hit its lowest marker since 1967.
Canadian police reported 536 homicides in 1999, down 22 from the previous year. (For an unscientific comparison, the California Department of Justice reported 2,170 homicides for that state alone in 1998.)
Crime rates in Alberta were virtually unchanged since 1998, but Canadas three largest provinces all reported significant drops over the previous year. Quebecs rate fell by 7.8 per cent, Ontarios by 7.4 per cent and B.C.s by 4.9 per cent.
The highest crime rates were reported by all three territories and Saskatchewan.
No one really knows why crime has fallen so much in the last decade, but similar trends have hit virtually all western countries, and theories abound.
"Numerous factors contribute to changes in the crime rate. While this report does not attribute reasons for the recent decreases in crime, some of the possible explanations include the aging of the population, a healthy economy, and new approaches to preventing and solving crimes," the report says.
Many criminologists cite demographics more than anything for the change. Canadas population is simply aging out of the crime-prone years, and the crime rate is reflecting that.
The report isnt all rosy, however. Crime rates are still higher now than they were in the 1950s and 1960s, and though the youth crime rate dropped more than 7 per cent in 1999, it is still 20 per cent higher than is was 10 years ago.
The report compiles the data from police services across the country, and gauges everything from homicide to disturbing the peace (which, by the way, has increased 31 per cent since 1995).
Though comparing statistics year-to-year has been criticized for ignoring long-term trends which provide real meaning to the numbers, Stats Can does offer a look at property and violent crime numbers back to the early 1960s.
The full Statistics Canada report can be viewed on the Web at www.statcan.ca and by following the links to The Daily, issue July 13, 2000.
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