Canada

Canadian homicide rate drops 10 per cent

The Canadian homicide rate fell by 10 per cent last year, in keeping with a downward trend that has gone on for three decades, according to an analysis of crime figures published Wednesday by Statistics Canada.

Number of youths accused of homicide hits 45-year high

The Canadian homicide rate fell by 10 per cent last year, in keeping with a downward trend that has gone on for three decades, according to an analysis of crime figures published Wednesday by Statistics Canada.

Criminologist Irvin Waller says Statistics Canada's numbers are generally good news, though more can be done to reduce crime. ((CBC))

Canadian police reported 605 homicides in 2006, 58 fewer than the year before.

The homicide rate has been falling in general since the mid-1970s, Statistics Canada says, although the rate was up slightly in 2004 and 2005.

"The overall trend in homicide rates is continuing down," University of Ottawa criminologist Irvin Waller told CBC News after reviewing Statistics Canada's numbers. "It's generally good news, but it's not a reason to be asleep at the switch."

While the homicide rate fell in general, the proportion of young people accused of homicides hit a 45-year high. In 2006, 84 people between the ages of 12 and 17 were accused of committing homicide. In 2005, 72 were accused.

"That suggests we have not been focused on preventative solutions," Waller said. "It means we've not been doing the right things."

He said cities like Boston have managed to reduce the rate of youth committing homicide dramatically by having police focus on young people involved in violence, while at the same time offering programs that provide incentives for young people, and particularly young men, tocomplete school and find jobs.

Waller said the all-encompassing crime bill proposed by the Conservative government in Tuesday's throne speech will not solve Canada's crime problems on its own.

"We need a national action plan to reduce violence, because even though the homicide rate is down, we still have more than 600 victims."

On Wednesday, Industry Minister Jim Prentice told CBC News that introducing the new crime legislation into the House of Commons is his government's first priority.

Number of gun homicides drop

Statistics Canada examined the types of homicides committed and found that 190 were committed with firearms, down from 223 in 2005.

The decrease marks the first time in four years that the proportion of homicides involvingguns has fallen.

Other homicide statistics for 2006 include:

  • Western provinces have the highest homicide rates, with Saskatchewan leading the pack, followedby Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia. Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick have the lowest ratesamong provinces.
  • Of the cities, Regina has the highest homicide rate, followed by Edmonton.
  • Manitoba had the highest rate of youth homicide, more than double the rate of any other province.
  • There were more homicides by stabbing than by shooting, with the number of stabbing victims hitting 210, compared to 190 shooting victims.
  • Edmonton was the city with the highest firearm homicide rate. Toronto had the highest number of shooting homicides, but because of its large population, its firearm homicide rate was less than half of Edmonton's.
  • Gang-related homicides account for one in every six homicides. Quebec had the highest rate of gang homicides.
  • 83 per cent of homicides were committed by someone known to the victim — 17 per cent were committed by a spouse, 19 per cent by a family member.
  • There were 78 spousal homicides in Canada in 2006, four more than in 2005. There was an increase in the number of men killed by their wives (21 in 2006 versus12 in 2005), but women are still much more likely to be killed by theirspouses than men.

Statistics Canada considers a homicide to be first- and second-degree murder, as well as manslaughter and infanticide. Deaths caused by criminal negligence orsuicide are not counted, and deaths ruled to be accidental homicidesand justifiable homicidesare also not part of the numbers.

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