Crime Trends in Waterloo Region: 2016

The WRPS 2016 Criminal Offence Summary is based on an ‘All Count’ of UCR code violations which are reported to our Service within the year.   The results will differ slightly from Statistics Canada’s ‘Most Serious Violation Count’ (MSV) of UCR code violations.   Because UCR codes may be modified and/or cleared after the incident occurred and are updated accordingly, the WRPS Criminal Offence Summary re-states the previous years’ numbers to incorporate all the latest information.   Click the button below to view the entire spreadsheet, and continue to read about some of the more frequent offences and noticeable trends. Click here to find out more about measuring crime.

Total Criminal Code Violations (excluding traffic) increased again this year, by 4.8% from 2015. Contributing to this trend were increases in Violent Crime (6.5%), in Property Crime (1.0%), and in Other Criminal Code Offences (15.1%).

Violent Crime, or Crimes Against the Person, increased by 6.5% in Waterloo Region in 2016. Driving the overall increase in Violent Crime were Attempted Murder (up by 2 or 66.7%), Sexual Violations (13.2%), Assaults (7.7%), Violations Resulting in the Deprivation of Freedom (24.4%), and Other Violations Involving Violence or the Threat of Violence (1.4%).

Regarding Sexual Violations, there were 18 more incidents of Level 1 Sexual Assault (5.7%), and Sexual Interference was up by 9 (10.1%). There were 13 counts of Nonconsensual Distribution of Intimate Images, a new UCR code introduced in 2015. There were 10 counts of Commodification of Sexual Activity, another whole new subcategory within Violent Crime. The implementation of the new Child and Youth Advocacy Centre in April 2016 has positively influenced the reporting of these types of incidents. Regarding Assaults, notable increases were in Level 1 Assaults (5.5%) and Level 2 Assaults (10.2%). The increase in Violations Resulting in the Deprivation of Freedom was mainly due to the increase in Forcible Confinement (19.5%). In Other Violent Violations, Robbery was up by 6.9% and Utter Threats to a Person up by 4.9%. Trending in the other direction, Violations Causing Death was the only subcategory of Violent Crimes that declined. Compared to 2015, there were three less 1st or 2nd degree murders, which resulted in an overall drop of -33.3% in Violations Causing Death.

Non-Violent Crime, or Crimes Against Property, rose 1% in Waterloo Region compared to 2015.   Some of the crimes driving this increase include Shoplifting $5000 or Under (6.2%), Theft Under and Over $5000 (1.5% and 31.7%), and Arson (19.8%). Investigators indicate the significant influx of addictive substances in our Region fuels drug related crime such as shoplifting and theft. Identity fraud continues to rise (17.8%), as this type of crime is prevalent and targets victims via a host of internet and phone scams with the intent to harvest personal information. Notable declines in Property Crime include Break and Enters (-8.5%), Motor Vehicle Thefts (-1%), and reported incidents of Mischief (-2.8%).

Other Criminal Code Violations, also considered non-violent, were 15.1% higher in 2016 than in 2015. Differences from the Most Serious Violation counting methodology compared to the All Count methodology used in this Summary are more noticeable in these non-violent offence categories. The two most frequent Other Criminal Code violation types, Failure to Comply with Conditions and Breach of Probation, each with more than two thousand counts, went up 15.9% and 18.1% respectively. Investigators are finding more individuals are being released and re-offending, and some investigative projects are now concentrating on individuals with court ordered terms and conditions to reduce recidivism. Other significant increases were in Offensive Weapons, with Weapons Possession Contrary to Order up by 33.9% and Possession of Weapons up by 31%. Production/Distribution of Child Pornography, which was up 50.9%, is a type of crime significantly influenced by police resources. With the expansion of our Cybercrime Branch in 2017, these numbers are expected to increase even more in 2017.   Some of the Other Criminal Code Violations that decreased include Prostitution (-45.5%), Counterfeiting Currency (-25.4%), Offences Against Public Order (-37%), and Proceeds of Crime (-76.2%).

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) offences experienced an overall 5.2% increase. Most of this increase is due to Possession offences including all types of controlled drugs and substances. Violations for Trafficking, Importation and Exportation, and Production were minimal or decreased, with the exception of increases in Other CDSA types. Fentanyl is currently included in this “Other” category of CDSA types, as are Xanax or Alazapan that was seized in a significant pill press investigation. Drug offences are another type of violation that can be significantly influenced by police resources.

Other Federal Statute Violations, specifically Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) offences, were down by 24.2% in Waterloo Region in 2016. This reduction may be influenced by increased use of youth diversions throughout the Region.

Criminal Code Traffic Violations experienced an overall decrease of -13.3% in 2016, driven largely by a significant decrease in Failure to Stop or Remain. In this case, a review of internal coding processes has influenced the change. Notable increases of Traffic Violations include Dangerous Operation of a Motor Vehicle (7.9%), Flight from Peace Officer (35.1%), Impaired Operation of Motor Vehicle or Over 80 mg (8.4%), and Failure to Provide Breath Sample (20.4%).

Moving forward, strategic enforcement, the encouragement of citizen reporting, and public education will continue.