Sep 28 2010
OTTAWA - The federal government has made crime fighting a top priority, but new statistics appear to support critics' claims that general lawlessness has declined or remained the same, not increased.
About 7.4 million Canadians - just over a quarter of the population aged 15 and up - said they were victims of a criminal incident last year.
Statistics Canada reports that proportion has not changed since 2004.
The agency says most criminal incidents reported in 2009 were non-violent.
Theft of personal property (34 per cent), theft of household property (13), vandalism (11), break-ins (7), and theft of motor vehicles and parts (5) accounted for 70 per cent of reported incidents.
Violence - physical assault (19 per cent), sexual assault (8), and robbery (4) - accounted for the remaining self-reported incidents.
Along with economic measures, the Conservative government has made a series of anti-crime initiatives a major part of its policy agenda, despite statistics indicating general crime rates have been in steady decline for more than a decade.
The latest Statistics Canada report found rates of violent and household victimization were similar to those reported in 2004, but the rate of theft of personal property increased 16 per cent, to 108 incidents per 1,000 people in 2009 from 93 in 2004.
The highest rates of both violent and household crime were in the Tory heartland - Western Canada, particularly Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
The only exception to the trend was New Brunswick, where the rate of violent victimization more closely resembled that in the West.
Nearly 1.6 million Canadians, or six per cent of the population aged 15 and up, reported being the victim of a sexual assault, a robbery or a physical assault in the preceding 12 months - similar to the 2004 rates. Physical assault was the most common form of violence, followed by sexual assault and robbery, the agency said.
"It was not uncommon for victims of violence to report having experienced multiple violent incidents," said the report.
Of the victimized, 74 per cent reported one incident, 16 per cent reported they had been violently victimized twice within the previous 12 months, and 10 per cent said they'd been victimized three or more times.
Overall, younger Canadians were 15 times more likely than older Canadians to indicate that they had been a victim of violence within the previous 12-month period.