“Crime is at its lowest level since 1973,” states Statistics Canada in its 2011 release. Do you believe it? Do you feel safer than you did two years ago?
Stats Canada’s report http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/12-581-x/2011000/cri-eng.htm#c08 is a complex compilation of data from police forces across the country.
Inputting this data is equally intricate as the law enforcer must decide where in the vast array of crime categories a particular incident should be slotted.
Some crimes qualify for various categories as in the case of a robbery that may include a weapon, a disguise and an assault. Is this incident one statistic or four? You can see the dynamics of the task.
Statistics Canada muddies the waters further with its Crime Severity Index: “Each offence is assigned a weight and more serious crimes are assigned higher weights, or relative importance. Changes in more serious crimes, such as break-ins and robberies, drive changes in the index.” Did you get that? Understand it? We didn’t get it either. Rural Crime Watch (RCW) doubts many law enforcers, those tasked with inputting the data, grasp the index either.
Some criminologists credit the aging population to the overall crime drop, sighting a more senior person is less likely to offend than 20-somethings. Simon Fraser University professor Robert Gordon notes that the prevelence of closed-circuit TV in public places/ businesses has reduced criminal incidents. The latter has been the case in many businesses participating in Business Watch.
While Winnipeg, Regina and Edmonton struggle with their crime issues, British Columbia’s law enforcers have taken a huge bite out of criminal behavior, specifically in auto theft assisting in the five per cent drop in overall crime. The problem with statistics is the input. Many crimes, particularly those against women, break-ins and property crimes are either not reported or under reported.
RCW has been privy to various residents not reporting crimes (prior to joining RCW) for fear of reprisal.
Interpret the Statistics Canada report with glee if you must, but do so with filtered glasses.
–– Rural Crime Watch