Saskatchewan has highest Crime Severity Index in Canada

·6 min read

Saskatchewan has the highest Crime Severity Index (CSI) in Canada, according to the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics’ (CCJS), which released its statistics Oct. 29.

Saskatchewan’s CSI increased by 5.40 per cent in 2019, from 140.59 in 2018 to 148.18 in 2019.

The province’s Violent Crime Severity Index (VCSI) also increased by 21.12 per cent, jumping from 141.16 in 2018 to 170.97 in 2019.

The province’s non-violent crime, however, dropped by 0.31 per cent, from 140.06 in 2018 to 139.63 in 2019.

Quebec was the only province to report a lower CSI (-one per cent). The types of offences driving increases in the CSI across the provinces and territories varied from fraud, child pornography, homicide, and breaking and entering.

The largest increases in the CSI were recorded in the CMAs of Kelowna (+20 per cent), Victoria (+16 per cent), Belleville (+13 per cent) and Vancouver (+11 per cent).

Around Saskatchewan

Regina had the third highest CSI in 2019 among Canada’s 35 census metropolitan areas with a population of 100,000 or more. Lethbridge had the highest CSI, followed by Winnipeg.

Saskatoon dropped from fourth to fifth in 2019. Saskatoon’s CSI measure was 117.3 in 2019, down slightly from 2018’s 117.78. But Saskatoon’s violent crime severity rating jumped by almost 24 per cent, hitting 134.73 in 2019, up from 109.03 in 2018.

North Battleford drops in crime ranking

North Battleford dropped to number four in CSI ranking in communities of 10,000 or more.

Crime, however, continues to be an issue. North Battleford’s CSI increased by 13.42 per cent in 2019 compared with only a 3.95 per cent increase in 2018. It’s CIS was 437.70 and 385.92 in 2019 and 2018 respectively.

North Battleford had a whopping 46.87 per cent increase in its Violent Crime Severity Index (VCSI) jumping from 377.77 in 2018 to 554.83 in 2019.

The non-violent crime in North Battleford only increased 1.70 per cent in 2019.

Homicide rate increases in the Prairie Provinces

Nationally, the increase in homicides was driven by Saskatchewan (+21), Alberta (+19), and Manitoba (+17). There were fewer homicides in Ontario (-26) and Quebec (-6).

Police reported a two per cent increase in homicides with 678 homicides in 2019, compared with 658 in 2018.

Homicide rate for Indigenous peoples 6.5 times higher than for non-Indigenous people

The homicide rate for Indigenous peoples (First Nation, Métis and Inuit) was six and a half times higher (8.82 homicides per 100,000 population) than for Canada's non-Indigenous population (1.34 per 100,000 population). Indigenous peoples accounted for five per cent of Canada's population, but 27 per cent of all homicide victims nationally in 2019.

Police reported 174 Indigenous homicide victims in 2019, 33 more than in 2018.

Colonization, residential schools, work camps and forced relocation, have profoundly impacted Indigenous communities and families, Statistics Canada said when releasing the numbers.

“Indigenous peoples often experience social and institutional marginalization, discrimination, and various forms of trauma and violence—including intergenerational trauma and gender-based violence. As a result, many Indigenous peoples experience challenging social and economic circumstances. These factors play a significant role in the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system and as victims of crime.”

Crime decreases on Onion Lake Cree Nation

Onion Lake Cree Nation’s CSI measure decreased in 2019 by 14.5 per cent, dropping from 905.58 in 2018 to 774.4 in 2019.

Onion Lake’s violent crime severity index also decreased. It went from 1,098.36 in 2018 to 903.58 in 2019, which translates into a 17.73 per cent decrease.

Onion Lake’s non-violent crime dropped by 12.99 per cent going from 834.10 in 2018 to 725.76 in 2019.

Gang related homicides increase

The number of firearm-related (+10) and gang-related (+6) homicides increased in 2019. Handguns accounted for most firearm-related homicides (60 per cent), which has been the case since 1995. Handguns also accounted for the majority (78 per cent) of gang-related homicides committed with a firearm.

More sexual assaults reported

The #MeToo movement is attributed for the notable increase in police-reported sexual assaults in the last three years.

In 2019, police-reported sexual assaults rose seven per cent, marking the fifth consecutive annual increase.

Significant increase in police-reported child pornography

The national rate of police-reported child pornography increased by 46 per cent. Police reported 8,815 incidents in 2019, 2,881 more than in 2018. The huge rise and severity of incidents of child pornography made child pornography the second leading offence driving the national increase in the CSI in 2019.

More offences related to harassing and threatening behaviours

The rates of many types of criminally harassing and threatening behaviours rose sharply in 2019. In particular, criminal harassment (+17 per cent in the rate per 100,000 population, +3,634 incidents), uttering threats (+20 per cent rate, +14,555 incidents), indecent or harassing communications (+29 per cent rate, +5,517 incidents), and the non-consensual distribution of intimate images (+31 per cent rate, +489 incidents) all increased from a year earlier. Uttering threats was the largest contributor to the national increase in the Violent Crime Severity Index in 2019.

Police-reported fraud increases

Nationally, the rate of police-reported fraud (including identity theft and identity fraud) increased for the eighth year in a row, up 10 per cent from 2018 and 64 per cent higher than the rate recorded a decade earlier.

According to the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre, there were 19,285 victims of fraud in 2019 and more than $98 million lost due to fraud.

Increase in shoplifting

Police reported more than 140,200 incidents of shoplifting (373 incidents per 100,000 population) in 2019, up 11 per cent from 2018.

There were large increases in the rate of shoplifting in Manitoba (+48 per cent), Alberta (+37 per cent) and British Columbia (+18 per cent).

Police-reported meth offences increase

A number of police services have indicated that the illicit use of methamphetamine (crystal meth) is a growing issue in their communities and may be contributing to increases in other types of crime, including property and violent crimes.

There were 14,446 methamphetamine offences in Canada in 2019, up three per cent from the previous year.

Effects of COVID-19 on crime to be determined

The police-reported crime statistics from 2019 don’t reflect the impacts in Canada by the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 police-reported data will identify possible changes in Canadian crime patterns as a result of the pandemic.

Canada’s crime rate lower than decade ago

The police-reported crime rate, which measures the volume of crime, increased seven per cent in 2019 to 5,874 incidents per 100,000 Canadians. Even with this increase, the crime rate in 2019 was nine per cent lower than a decade ago.

Police reported more than 2.2 million Criminal Code incidents in 2019, 164,748 more than in 2018.

The CSI measures the volume and severity of police-reported crime in Canada. The CSI tracks changes in the severity of police-reported crime from year to year. It considers the change in volume of a particular crime and the relative seriousness of that crime in comparison to other crimes.

Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist