National homicide rate fell 10 per cent last year, statistics show
In some of Toronto’s toughest areas, where most of the city’s shootings and homicides are committed, there may be some skepticism about statistics showing Canada’s crime rate dropped three per cent last year, reaching the lowest levels in 25 years.
But communities across the country are posting improving crime statistics, largely due to a decline in non-violent crime, such as break-ins, thefts under $5,000, and counterfeiting, according to Statistics Canada’s annual survey of police-reported data.
And while the national homicide rate fell by 10 per cent — the first reversal in two years — there were increases in many other serious violent crimes such as attempted murder, aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, robbery and kidnapping or forcible confinement.
Police credit extra patrol officers and assertive policing for helping to reduce crime and an emphasis on monitoring repeat offenders. The aging population and economic conditions are among the reasons criminologists cite to explain decreasing crime.
But crime statistics invariably spark debate. The accuracy of figures based on police incidence data is one of the things that is being contested.
“Those are reliable in some categories and notoriously unreliable in others,” said assistant law professor George Rigakos, who says in domestic offences, sexual assaults and common assault, “there’s gross under-reporting.”
In Toronto, a downward trend in crime appears to be continuing with the number of shootings so far this year down 28 per cent from this time last year. As of yesterday, there were 41 homicides, compared to 42 at this time last year.