Why Measure Crime? Crime has many consequences. Not only does it directly impact victims and their personal supports, but it also affects society as a whole. All levels of government devote many resources to provide policing, court, correctional, and victim services. Additionally, crime information is used by all levels of government policy makers and researchers. For these reasons, crime counts, types, and trends deserve attention.
Measuring Crime in Canada: Every police service across Canada is mandated to submit Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) data to Statistics Canada, who, since 1962 has worked in co-operation with the policing community to define police-reported crime and its characteristics. This makes for a standardized comparison - a similar and consistent way of measuring the incidence of crime in Canadian society - when this national data is published in Statistics Canada’s annual UCR Survey.
However, crime is complex and comes in many forms. A criminal incident may consist of one or more related offences that are committed during a single event. If the criminal incident is violent in nature, the offences are counted once for each victim. Additionally, statistics may be reported based on when the crime occurred or when it was reported. To be consistent for comparison’s sake, Statistics Canada counts the Most Serious Violation (MSV). The MSV methodology considers only the most serious offence in an incident. WRPS counts all offences (All Count) in our own annual Criminal Offence Summary to reflect the change in complexity of crime in our region over time.
It should be noted that crime data is only representative of what is reported to police. There are many factors which may influence police-reported crime such as: our community’s willingness to report, available police resources, police service priorities, crime prevention measures, targeted enforcement practices, and increasingly, other avenues of reporting crime that do not get relayed to the police.
Availability of National Crime Statistics: Due to the length of investigations, follow-up, evidence processing, and the complexity of crime, police services are given until March 31st each year to submit their year-end UCR statistics. Statistics Canada then runs a variety of verification processes, and their tables and reports for the previous year’s crime statistics begin to be published near the end of July.
Statistics Canada’s crime and justice publications include both the volume and severity of police-reported crimes (Crime Severity Index), clearance rates, and more, broken out by province, census metropolitan area, and municipal police service. Visit www.statcan.gc.ca for the latest reports and data available in their CANSIM tables at www5.statcan.gc.ca/cansim/.