Saturday, March 17, 2007

The war on crime stats

"The Vancouver Board of Trade today called on Opposition Leader Stéphane Dion to deal with Canada’s increasing crime problem currently hidden by inaccurate statistics." ~ VBT media release

Director Jason McLean stated that current StatsCan statistics showing an overall drop in crime in Canada are inaccurate due to StatsCan's own admission that crime is under-reported by a third.
McLean referred Dion to the board's own Crime Task Force and the more serious crime picture contained in StasCan's Criminal Victimization Surveys which show one in four people were affected by criminal offenses in 2004.

"The Board’s Crime Task Force has revealed that Canada has some of the highest crime rates of all OECD countries. In fact, much of violent crime is getting worse. This year alone, one in ten Canadians will be a victim of violent crime," McLean said."

Holy crap! One in four? One in ten? How'd you figure that?

A look at those Criminal Victimization Surveys and the questions in it gives us a clue.
Good for them for including spousal violence. Really.
But : "Puts you down or calls you names to make you feel bad"?
And under Stalking : "Sent you unwanted email messages"?
How about "During the last 12 months did anyone deliberately damage or destroy any property belonging to you or anyone in your houshold, including a window or a fence?"

What? Nothing about being jostled on the bus?

Look, guys. Get a grip.
Unwanted emails and broken fences are not what we mean by violent crime.

Here's the StatsCan crime stats for 2004.
Crime going down. Deal with it.

Oh and that one-third under-reporting of crimes?
Unless people suddenly started under-reporting crimes just recently, that one-third would apply to all years, wouldn't it? Crime would be one-third higher in all years but it would still be going down.

So spare us that old Toews hysteria you're peddling about Canada being "worse than the U.S., where the violent crime rate has dropped significantly since 1999" and your recommendation that we should therefore adopt "American tough-on-crime policies".

Here's a piece of advice for all you VBTers and your Con enablers from Corrections Canada. It was on a page since expunged in one of those gnugov page purges.

"American politicians have often found it in their self-interest to use fear of crime as a strategy to win elections, by promising to wage war on crime.
It is ironic that in the United States, as in Canada, crime rates have been declining since 1991. However, by waging war on crime they have managed to double their prison population without making the United States a noticeably safer society than Canada.
We would do much to advance the public interest if we can better manage the fear of crime than our American neighbours."


Anonymous said...

Don't tell me -let me guess - this is all about cleaning up the city for the Olympics.

RossK said...


Looks like I guessed wrong.

And here I thought the next slime and defend would be on the subject of 'energy security' (ie. Mr. Dion has our former pet Elliot's son running for him....ergo...Stephane's to blame for the failed National Energy Program*).

*And/or Petrocan.


Alison said...

Ian : My thoughts exactly.

Lots of time yet for you still to be right, Ross, as this one is part of an ongoing VBoT crusade for more cops and prisons, both of which will come in very handy in managing public response to "energy security" issues.

maire said...

first, i should say i'm a canadian living abroad and i recently stumbled on your site and i think it's great. (and a good antidote to the 'maclean's' magazines my boss passes along to me which, frankly, scare the crap out of me.)

second, i read this post just after reading an article in the ny review of books about the american prison system (or 'the american prison nightmare' as the article calls it). it should be enough to make anyone think twice about the need for more cops and prisons, but it probably won't be:

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