Crime Stats: Who’s Fooling Whom?
Once again, Statistics Canada, using info generously contributed by police forces across the country, has issued this reassuring statistical commentary: “Crime stats continue to decrease, along with the severity of crimes committed.” Who’s fooling whom? How many Canadians feel safer today than last year? Or the year before that? Or twenty years before that? The death of innocents still features in the news and the ringing of bullets still echoes in the consciousness of Canadians from the Eaton’s shootings, the Scarborough backyard party gone ballistic and the Colorado “Batman” shootings.
Calls continue to go out for an inquiry into the deaths and disappearances of Aboriginal women with victim numbers ranging from 600 to 3,000. In small towns across the country, possession and sale of narcotics is out of control and the mixed herd of accompanying crimes that follow with it are difficult to comprehend or quantify: prostitution, violence, extortion, gambling, theft, graffiti, illegal weapons possession, obstruction of justice, unsafe driving…the list goes on.
In these and many other types of crimes, police are often unable or unwilling to enforce the laws as they stand for several obvious reasons: they often sense a lack of political will and moral muscle to back them when they put their lives on the line. How many policemen have risked life and limb to put a drug trafficker behind bars, only to see him back on the street the next day with (perhaps) a rap on the knuckles. Police are bound by regulations in terms of gathering evidence or extracting testimony that put them at a distinct disadvantage to the criminals who are apparently free to play their cards as they see fit.
A friend of mine had his house broken into and vandalized, his property destroyed and endured substantial smoke damage from his wood stove being broken open, filling his house with smoke. He had a good idea who did it. He’d been assaulted and threatened before by an individual known to the police. The police came and investigated. My friend had to move out of his house until repairs could be made. He lived in fear, lest the destructive person return, perhaps with deadly intent. In spite of a substantial likelihood that the individual who had previously uttered threats was, in fact, the perpetrator, “insufficient evidence” was the reason given why the police did not seek out the suspect the night of the crime, compare his boot with the bootmark left on the door he kicked in, see whether he had glass fragments in his clothes, ask him where he was at the time of the incident, etc. This is cowardice and incompetence on the part of our law enforcement agency. But I do not blame the individual policemen involved. I blame an agency gone soft and a justice system gone soft and daffy.
Our prolife organization recently had three large billboards vandalized in a single night. All were on private property. All were purchased and erected by volunteers. This is the third time this has happened. Did the police come out to investigate? No. Their response? “Vandalism and graffiti are not crimes. We’re busy looking after serious crimes.” Was it because the signs belonged to prolifers? Or was it because the RCMP had no idea how to investigate the crime and no hope of finding the guilty party? The last time this happened, when I reported it, the RCMP office responded on the phone “Do you know who did it?” (My snide, unspoken response to this lazy approach was, “If I knew that, don’t you think I’d be telling you?” Of course, if I suspected someone and shared those suspicions, I might be told there was “insufficient evidence” to warrant investigating.
These responses are part of the reason why approximately two-thirds of these types of crimes are never reported. Of the ones that are reported, they don’t make it into the official “crime stats” unless they are “substantiated by the police.” How do you “substantiate” a crime you don’t investigate?
When someone disappears, it often—but not always—indicates that a crime has been committed. Where in the criminal stats are the unsolved disappearances? What about the youth who commit a crime and are arrested but are not charged? Softer sentencing and alternative community servicing programs result in fewer that 50% of youth known to be guilty being officially charged and tried.
How about the gay pride parades, where homosexual men flaunt the laws regarding obscene acts in public but are never charged? In some cases police chiefs are participating in the parades! More crime stats distorted. Prostitution is still against the law but it goes on undisturbed in many cities. Disreputable “madams” now challenge their accusers in court and want prostitution made legal so they can ply their trade more openly. If, every time the justice system confronts a behaviour it can’t deal with, it declares such behaviour “legal” of course, that will lower the “crime rate”. The RCMP and the many layers of bureaucratic dependents in our “justice” system want you to believe that they are doing a good job: your property is better protected, your streets are safer, your kids are safer than 20 years ago. Do you feel safer? With all the security systems people have today and all the nauseating hype about “bullying” in the schools, the attitudes and behaviours of the non-thinkers being churned out by many of our schools , the sense of social responsibility and shared community are not better than they were. The abandonment of the shared moral code that rested on a scriptural understanding of the Golden Rule has lowered our national standards of behaviour and decency and justice.
We rely on Statistics Canada and the CBC to tell it like it is, not to gloss over the “inconvenient truths” of a nation that has lost its way and hovers on the edge of anarchy. Falsely representing the condition of our society is a crime and I think someone should report it to the police!
When someone disappears
The 2009 GSS indicates that break-ins increased by 21% from 2004, although the rate was similar to that reported in 1999 (Table 9). This finding differs from police-reported data that show break-ins to be steadily declining since peaking in the early 1990’s (Dauvergne and Turner 2010).
Reporting victimizations to police
Break-ins and motor vehicle theft most often reported to police
In each cycle of the GSS, victims are asked whether or not the incident came to the attention of the police. Overall, nearly one-third (31%) of incidents were reported to the police in 2009, down slightly from 2004 (34%) (Table 10). Rates of reporting to the police were highest for incidents of household victimization (36%), followed by incidents of violent victimization (29%) and thefts of personal property (28%).
For both violent and non-violent incidents, rates of reporting to police tend to differ depending on the type of crime (Table 10, Chart 3). Among violent crimes, robberies (including attempted robberies) were most likely to be reported to police (43%), followed by physical assaults (34%). The majority of sexual assaults were not reported to the police (88%) (Table 10). Among household crimes, break-ins (54%) were most often reported followed by motor vehicle/parts theft (50%). Less than one quarter (23%) of household property thefts were reported to the police (Table 10).
Self-reported victimization incidents reported to the police, 2009
Less than one-half of youth accused are formally charged by police
On the whole, police-reported rates of offending tend to be higher among youth and young adults (Chart 15). Rates tend to increase incrementally among those aged 12 to 17, peak among those aged 18, and then decrease with increasing age.
Persons accused of crime, age 12 to 65 years, Canada, 2011
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.
Over 135,600 youth were accused of a Criminal Code offence in 2011, about 18,100 fewer than in 2010. The number of accused includes youth who were charged (or recommended for charging) by police, and those who were dealt with by means other than the formal laying of a charge. Examples of youth not formally charged include youth diverted from the formal criminal justice system through the use of warnings, cautions and referrals to community programs.
Historically, youth in Canada were more likely to be formally charged than dealt with by other means. As of 2003, however, this trend reversed and the number of youth who were diverted from the formal justice system began to exceed the number of youth who were formally charged (Chart 16). This change corresponds to the year in which the Youth Criminal Justice Act was implemented, legislation which established clear guidelines for the implementation and use of extrajudicial measures (i.e. informal sanctions) for youth. In 2011, 57% of youth were diverted from the justice system while 43% were formally charged.
"There was a prevailing belief that the justice system is overwhelmed with cases, police enforcement is lax for all but the most severe crimes, and these conditions allow for more people 'getting away' with crime, more loopholes, more plea bargains, and more dismissed cases."