Driven by a decline in non-violent felonies, Canada's crime rate reached a 25-year low in 2006, with every province and territory recording a drop, Statistics Canada said Wednesday.

Province/territory:

Overall crime rate (per 100,000 population)

Change from 2005 (in %)
National 7,518 -3
British Columbia 11,365 -5
Alberta 9,523 -6
Saskatchewan 13,711 -4
Manitoba 11,678 -1
Ontario 5,689 -2
Quebec 5,909 -3
New Brunswick 6,111 -5
Nova Scotia 8,069 -2
P.E.I. 6,793 -11
Newfoundland and Labrador 6,055 -2
Yukon 20,593 -9
Northwest Territories 41,468 -5
Nunavut 31,265 -11
Source: Statistics Canada

The overall crime rate was 7,518 per 100,000 people, down three per cent from 2005.

However, the report also found that even though the overall ratesdecreased, those formore serious violent offences have remained steadyfrom 2005. The rate of violent offences was 951 per 100,000 people in 2006, for a total of 310,307 countrywide.

Morepeople committed violent offences, such as attempted murder, aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, robbery, kidnapping and forcible confinement. But that wasoffset by a10-per-cent drop in the national homicide rate, to1.85 homicides per 100,000 people. Police reported a total of 605 homicides in 2006, 58 fewer than in 2005. In the preceding two years, the rate had climbed.

University of Ottawa criminologist Ron Melchers told CBC Newsworld that the drop in areas such as property crime, breaking and entering and car thefts could be attributed to increased security measures for homes and cars as well changes in demographics.

melchers-ron-cbc-070718

University of Ottawa criminologist Ron Melchers said more young offenders between the ages of 12 and 17 are committing serious or violent crimes. ((CBC))

"But there are some disturbing trends," Melchers said, pointing out that although minorassaults were down, the more serious ones —including those with weapons — hadclimbed.

"More disturbing yet," he said, "they're going up among young offenders who are 12 to 17 years of age."

The rate of youth crimes rose by three per cent in 2006, with 74,000 youth charged with a criminal offence. It was the first increase in three years, due to "increases in mischief and disturbing the peace," according to the report.

The rate of young people accused of homicide was also the highest since 1961, when statistics were first collected. Last year, 84 youths were accused of homicide involving 54 victims.

Saskatchewan has highest crime rate — again

For the ninth year in a row, Saskatchewan recorded the highest crime rateof all the provinces, with 13,711 crimes per 100,000 people. It wasfollowed by Manitoba (11,678 per 100,000) and British Columbia (11,365 per 100,000). That was despite afour-per-cent drop in overall crime in Saskatchewan.

"It's not exactly an honour," Melchers said, adding that "it has a lot to do with a very large concentration of very disadvantaged Saskatoon residents."

Saskatchewan, with 40 homicides in2006, also reported the highest murder rate among the provinces — 4.1 homicides per 100,000 people.

The overall crime rate dropped most inPrince Edward Island and Nunavut, where it was down 11 per cent, followed by declines of about five per cent in Alberta, New Brunswick and B.C. The lowest crime rate was recorded in Ontario (5,689 offences per 100,000 population).

According to theStatistics Canada report, the city with the highest total crime rate was Regina (12,415 crimesper100,000 people).The city with the lowestcrimerate was Quebec City (4,931 per 100,000).

Contrary to a common misconception about big cities, Melchers said, large urban areas such as Toronto are among the safest communities in the country.

"No one will believe that if you say that in a conversation with neighbours, but urban areas are generally very, very safe," he said.

Higher crime rates are more the trend in large western cities, such as Winnipeg, Regina and Saskatoon, Melcher said.

With files from the Canadian Press