Nova Scotia

Violent crime on the rise in Nova Scotia, says StatsCan

The number of homicides in Nova Scotia doubled between 2014 and 2015, but reported crime went down, says Statistics Canada.

A higher number of homicides across the province is fuelling this increase

The crime severity Iindex, which measures severity and frequency of crimes, has dropped 39 per cent since 2005 in Nova Scotia. (CBC)

The number of homicides in Nova Scotia doubled between 2014 and 2015, but reported crime went down, says Statistics Canada.

As well, the statistics agency's index that captures both the severity and frequency of crimes showed an increase in violent activity both in Halifax, and to a lesser extent, the province as a whole.

"When we look at the overall crime severity index (CSI) going down, it was largely driven by declines in breaking and entering and theft under $5,000," said Rebecca Kong, Statistics Canada's manager of policing services program.

Kong says CSI tracks the frequency of crime, but assigns more weight to crimes that receive longer sentences.

CSI dropped seven per cent for Nova Scotia from 2014 to 2015, while it declined by five per cent in Halifax.

'Twice as many homicides'

However, the violent crime severity index (VCSI) rose one per cent in the province.

"When we look at the increase in the violent crime severity index, we see that there [were] twice as many homicides in 2015 as in 2014. The numbers moved up from six to 12, so that was basically contributing [to] the violent CSI," she said.

In Halifax, VCSI jumped by seven per cent. 

"We saw that the homicides there grew [from] five to eight over those two years. And also the rate of robbery increased overall 27 per cent," said Kong. 

A criminologist from Saint Mary's University says it's important not to read too much into a single year's numbers.

"When it comes to anything statistical, you really need to look at trends over a long period of time. Every now and again, you can have a blip up or down. And you shouldn't make too much of those year-to-year changes," said Diane Crocker.

Since 2005, Nova Scotia's CSI has dropped 39 per cent.

Aging population means less crime

Crocker attributes that to an aging Nova Scotia population. 

When a population ages, it becomes less involved in crime. And also in Nova Scotia, we see a decrease in several criminal offences that are more associated with youth, break and enter and theft," she said. 

The CSI for Canada rose last year by 5 per cent compared to 2014, the first increase in 12 years.

Kong says that was driven by increases in fraud, breaking and entering, robberies and homicides, primarily in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and B.C.