LETTERS: Crime Severity Index a statistical prevarication

Interestingly, most of Canada’s largest cities don’t appear until much down the list


Re: Crime Severity Index

“There are lies, damn lies, and statistics,” Benjamin Disraeli/Mark Twain, and it would seem that when it comes to the Crime Severity Index (CSI) our community and many others like it are not being accurately represented by statistics.

An examination of the CSI shows that the majority of communities at the top of the list have very similar profiles. They are small, rural cities like Williams Lake, Quesnel and North Battleford, that have in their immediate hinterland a number of smaller communities with a population that often equals or exceeds the population of the city itself.

Interestingly, most of Canada’s largest cities don’t appear until much down the list. So how do we account for these rankings? It mostly comes down to an interpretation of demographics. The calculation of the CSI doesn’t factor in hinterland populations so rural cities like ours end up at the top of the CSI list while a city like Toronto doesn’t even appear in the top 100.

What the CSI fails to recognize is that those of us who live outside rural cities (I live on Fox Mountain) not only come into the city on a daily or weekly basis to work, shop, access services and recreate, but also, for those inclined, to become involved in criminal activity.

READ MORE: Crime severity index sees Williams Lake seventh place

In their calculation of the CSI Statistics Canada only concerns itself with the number and type of crimes committed within the city.

The home address of the offender isn’t considered. Calculations are based solely on the population of the city with no regard for the population of the surrounding communities.

Additionally, if an offence takes place outside the city and the local police detachment responds, that offence is still recorded as part of the city’s CSI. So, Statistics Canada recognizes the offences outside the city but it doesn’t recognize the flaw in this methodology and in the inaccuracy of its results.

The character of our city and of many others heading up the CSI list are being misrepresented by the current statistical model and some effort should be made by Statistics Canada to remedy this situation.

Williams Lake is at number seven on the CSI list. It’s not a lie, but it may well be a “statistical prevarication.”

Jim World

Williams Lake (but not statistically)

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