Stabbings up 36% in Toronto last year

The number of stabbings in Toronto jumped dramatically in 2014, according to new numbers obtained by CBC News.

Dramatic rise in stabbings, though knife-involved crime roughly constant

New data shows a jump in the number of stabbings in Toronto last year. 1:54

The number of stabbings in Toronto jumped dramatically in 2014, according to new numbers obtained by CBC News. 

According to data obtained from the Toronto Police Service under the Freedom of Information Act there were 815 stabbings in Toronto last year — a 36 per cent increase from the 599 in 2013. 

"In the last year or two we've been seeing about 130 cases of severe stab wounds every year, which is about one every three days," said Dr. Glen Bandiera, chief of emergency medicine at St. Michael's Hospital. 

Dr. Glen Bandiera, chief of emergency medicine at St. Michael's Hospital, says he sees about one or two stabbings a day in his department. (Linda Ward/CBC)
"But in the emergency department, I would estimate that we see one or two a day."

Police are "very much aware" of the rise said TPS spokesman Mark Pugash, though he stressed there is "no simple reason" for it. 

"People often want simple explanations for complex problems.  But there isn't one," he said, noting that incidents involving knives are down 25 per cent so far in 2015.

"Knives are very easy to get," he noted. "You could get into someone's house and find half a dozen knives … A gun is nowhere near as prevalent."

Though stabbings were up, the number of crimes that involved knives in 2013 and 2014 were roughly constant, 1391 and 1438, respectively. A chart of the police data is included below. 

Dr. Bandiera said most stabbings were minor. 

"It's hard to know if that's because people use knives or other sharp implements in self defence," he said, "or whether they are trying to send a message to somebody, or maybe they are trying to create some disfigurement, but not necessarily to create a severe internal injury."

From a report by CBC's Linda Ward

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