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Crime rate down to lowest levels since 1969: five insights from 2013 police data

It was a good year to be Canadian in 2013 — at least as far as police matters were concerned. Statscan's police-reported crime statistics for last year, released Wednesday morning, show overall declines in crime rates, the Crime Severity Index (CSI), and most types of crime and violations. Among the findings, the national homicide rate fell to its lowest rate since 1966. Below are five facts from the data.

Crime Severity Index by year

SOURCE: Statistics Canada

The major trends: overall crime rates down

The CSI declined 9 per cent in 2013 compared to 2012, the tenth consecutive decline in the index. Overall, the CSI is 36 per cent lower than it was ten years ago. The traditional crime rate (which measures the volume of crime, but does not account for their severity) also declined in 2013, falling 8 per cent when compared to 2012, and reaching its lowest level since 1969.

Offences with highest reported increases, by year

SOURCE: Statistics Canada

Not all offences saw decreases in 2013

Though the CSI saw an overall decline this past year, some offences saw rate increases: police reported more incidences of extortion (up 32 per cent), child pornography (up 21 per cent), aggravated sexual assault (up 9 per cent), sexual violations against children (up 6 per cent) and identity fraud (up 6 per cent).

Offences with highest reported decreases, by year

SOURCE: Statistics Canada

Largest violation decreases

Some violation rates saw a marked decrease, often in the 10-20 per cent range. Offences with the largest rate decreases in 2013 included robbery (down 17 per cent), arson (down 21 per cent), breaking and entering (down 12 per cent), threatening or harassing phone calls (12 per cent), and “other violations causing death” (down 19 per cent). Terrorism also saw a decrease, down 44 per cent from 114 reported incidences in 2012 to 72 in 2013.

Crime Severity Indexes per metropolitan area, 2013

SOURCE: Statistics Canada

A drop in crime rate for almost all metropolitan areas

None of Canada’s census metropolitan areas recorded an increase in 2013, the first time this has happened since the CSI began to be calculated in 1998. Edmonton was the only city with an unchanged CSI. Residents of Victoria saw the largest decrease, with their CSI dropping 17 per cent, though Barrie and Guelph had the lowest CSI overall.

Reported homicides and attempted murders

SOURCE: Statistics Canada

Lowest homicide rate in almost 50 years

Among the most easily digestible statistics reported, incidences of homicides and attempted murders were also down overall compared to 2013. The national homicide rate fell to 1.44 victims per 100,000 population, the lowest rate since 1966.

Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to aggravated sexual assault as aggravated assault and stated that the rate of reported aggravated sexual assaults had increased by 95 per cent. They increased by 9 per cent.

Crime Severity Indexes in the charts above are measured in comparison to a 2006 base year, where the 2006 CSI is standardized to a base of “100.” The Crime Severity Index is a weighted indicator of incidences of police-reported crime. For more on the CSI and how it is calculated, visit Statscan here.

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