Issue 16-139: Crime

July 20, 2016

Police-reported crime in British Columbia increased slightly in 2015 with both the traditional crime rate (+3%) and the Crime Severity Index (+4%) climbing. The traditional police-reported crime rate measures the volume of police-reported crime relative to the population size. The Crime Severity Index is calculated using weights based on average sentences imposed and intends to provide a measure that weighs less frequent yet heinous crimes, such as murder or sexual assault, more heavily than less serious but more numerous offenses such as shoplifting or mischief. The upturn in these two measures indicates a rise in both the volume and severity of police-reported crimes during the year. Police-reported crime was up in most provinces in 2015. An increase in the total crime rate in Alberta (+12%) was the most substantial in the country, with the national crime rate climbing 3% between 2014 and 2015.

The rate of violent crime in B.C. was 6% higher in 2015. Use of firearms (+43%), attempted murder (+39%) and aggravated sexual assault (+28) rates surged. Homicide rates also increased over the period (+6%), but the rate for sexual violations against children was down notably (-13%).

B.C.’s property crime rate was up only slightly (+2%) between 2014 and 2015. Despite the overall increase, the number of police-reported offences was down in several major property crime categories, including motor vehicle theft (-3%), identity theft (-3%) and arson (-7%).

Crime rates for police-reported drug-related offences declined substantially (-10%) in 2015, with decreases in rates connected with the trade (trafficking, production or distribution) of cannabis (-9%) and cocaine (-22%) outweighing a rise in the “other” drug-related crime rate (+18%), which includes heroin, crystal meth and ecstasy. The rate of impaired driving violations was down 9%.

Vancouver (+1%), Victoria (+10%), Kelowna (+10%) and Abbotsford-Mission (+15%) all registered higher overall crime rates in 2015. At 8,170 per 100,000 population, the homicide rate in Kelowna remained the highest of the province’s census metropolitan centres (CMAs) and above the Canadian average (5,198). Saskatoon (8,427) had the highest rate among the nation’s CMAs in 2015.

Data Source: Statistics Canada