Issue 16-93: Crime and Young Offenders

May 10, 2016

In 2014, young adults (aged 18 to 24) were far more likely to be accused of a crime in British Columbia than were either youth (aged 12 to 17) or older adults (aged 25 and older). Excluding traffic offences, the crime rate for young adults was 4,628 per 100,000 persons, well above the rate for youth (3,071) and more than double the rate for older adults (2,200).

Young adults were particularly more likely to commit violent crimes or drug offences compared to either youth or older adults. The violent crime rate for young adults was 1,187 per 100,000 persons, compared to 795 for youth and 639 for older adults. With respect to drug offences, the disparity was even greater, with a rate of 1,532 for young adults, almost double that of youth (788) and almost four times that of older adults (387).

For youth, property crime was the most frequent offence, with 1,550 offenders per 100,000 persons. The property crime rate was similar for young adults (1,544), but much lower for older adults (701).

For the most part, the higher rates of crime for young adults in B.C. mirrored the national figures, although rates for both youth and young adults were generally significantly lower in B.C. compared to the nation as a whole. The one major exception was for drug offences, where crime rates in British Columbia exceeded that of all regions in the country, with the exception of the three Territories.

While crime rates for younger British Columbians were lower than the Canadian average, this was not the case for adults aged 25 and over. B.C.’s rate of 2,200 per 100,000 persons was slightly higher than the national average of 2,048. Older adults in B.C. were particularly more likely to commit “other” criminal code offences, such as disturbing the peace and offences against the administration of justice (e.g., failure to appear, breach of probation, etc.). The rate for this type of offence in B.C. by adults aged 25 and over was 1,898, compared to only 699 for the same age group in Canada as a whole. Interestingly, young adults and youth were significantly less likely to commit these types of offences compared to the average Canadian in those age groups.

Source: Statistics Canada, Young Adult Offenders in Canada, 2014