Why Measure Crime? Crime has many consequences. Not only does it directly impact victims and their personal supports, but it also affects society as a whole. All levels of government devote many resources to provide policing, court, correctional, and victim services. Additionally, crime information is used by federal and provincial policy makers and researchers. For these reasons, crime counts, types, and trends deserve attention.
Measuring Crime in Canada: Every police service across Canada is mandated to submit Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) data to Statistics Canada, who, since 1962 has worked in co-operation with the policing community to define police-reported crime and its characteristics. This makes for a standardized comparison - a similar and consistent way of measuring the incidence of crime in Canadian society - when this national data is published in Statistics Canada’s annual UCR Survey.
However, crime is complex and comes in many forms. A criminal incident may consist of one or more related offences that are committed during a single event. If the criminal incident is violent in nature, the offences are counted once for each victim. Additionally, statistics may be reported based on when the crime occurred or when it was reported. To be consistent for comparison’s sake, Statistics Canada counts the Most Serious Violation (MSV). The MSV methodology considers only the most serious offence in an incident. WRPS counts all offences (All Count) in our own publications, because we want to reflect the complexity of crime in our region as we compare ourselves to ourselves over time.
It should be noted that crime data is only representative of what is reported to police and substantiated. There are many factors which may influence police-reported crime such as: our community’s willingness to report, available police resources, police service priorities, crime prevention measures, targeted enforcement practices, and increasingly, other avenues of reporting crime that do not get relayed to the police.
Availability of National Crime Statistics: Due to the length of investigations, follow-up, evidence processing, and the complexity of crime, police services are given until March 31st each year to submit their year-end UCR statistics. Statistics Canada then runs a variety of verification processes, and their tables and reports for the previous year’s crime statistics begin to be published near the end of July.
Statistics Canada’s crime and justice publications include both the volume and severity of police-reported crimes (Crime Severity Index), clearance rates, and more, broken out by province, census metropolitan area, and municipal police service. Visit www.statcan.gc.ca for the latest reports and data available in their CANSIM tables at www5.statcan.gc.ca/cansim/.
Crime Trends in Waterloo Region: 2015
The WRPS 2015 Criminal Offence Summary is based on an ‘All Count’ of UCR code violations which are reported to our Service within the year. The results will differ slightly from Statistics Canada’s ‘Most Serious Violation Count’ (MSV) of UCR code violations. Because UCR codes may be modified and/or cleared after the incident occurred and are updated accordingly, the WRPS Criminal Offence Summary re-states the previous years’ numbers to incorporate all the latest information. Click the button below to view the entire spreadsheet, and continue to read about some of the more frequent offences and noticeable trends.
Total Criminal Code Violations (excluding traffic) were up by 7.4%. Contributing to this trend were increases in Violent Crime (2.0 %), in Property Crime (7.5%), and in Other Criminal Code Offences (11.4%).
Violent Crime, or Crimes Against the Person, increased by 2.0% in Waterloo Region in 2015. Driving this increase were more Violations Causing Death, Assaults (3.0%), and Other Violations Involving Violence or the Threat of Violence (6.8%). Three offences of Murder 1st Degree contributed to increased percentage change of Violations Causing Death. Regarding assaults, Assaults Against Peace Officer with a Weapon or Cause Bodily Harm jumped 1300% from 1 to 14 counts, while Using Firearm/Imitation Firearm in Commission of Offense rose 53.3% from 15 to 25 counts. To a lesser extent, Assault with a Weapon rose 6.7%, reaching nearly 600 counts this past year, while Assault (Level 1) remains the most frequent offence (1894 counts). In terms of Other Violations, Arson – Disregard for Human Life had the highest percentage increase (100%, from 4 counts to 8), followed by Intimidation of a Non-Justice System Participant (up 33.3% to 4 counts) and Robbery (up 27.0% to 270 counts). Utter Threats and Criminal Harassment remain the most frequent with hundreds of police-reported incidences each.
Trending in the other direction, Attempted Murder noticeably declined (-57.1%), as did Violations Resulting in the Deprivation of Freedom (-10%).
Though Sexual Interference increased (7.2% to 97 counts), and Sexual Assault is still over 300 counts (-11.4%), Sexual Violations were down as a whole (-13.9%). Indeed, Sexual Assault with a Weapon, Incest, Corrupting Children and Making Sexually Explicit Material Available to Children were reduced to zero.
Non-Violent Crime, or Crimes Against Property, rose 7.5% in Waterloo Region compared to 2014. Eleven different types of property crimes recorded increases, namely Motor Vehicle Theft (up 30.6%), Theft $5,000 or Under, which is also the most frequent property offence (up 5.0%), Theft $5,000 or Under from a Motor Vehicle, the second most frequent property offence (up 21.8%), Possession of Stolen Goods $5,000 and Under, the third most frequent (up 10.8%), Break and Enter (over 2200 counts, up 11.7%), Fraud (over 1800 counts, up 15.1%), and Identity Theft (up 16.8% to 140 counts). Seven other property crimes decreased, including the highly frequent offence of Mischief (-5.3% to just under 3000) and Shoplifting $5,000 or Under (-2.9% to just over 2000). Trafficking in Stolen Goods Over $5000 experienced the largest percentage decrease (-55.6% from a count of 9 to 4).
Investigators attribute the increase in Motor Vehicle Thefts, in part, to changes in internal management practices. Prior to May 1, 2015, motor vehicle thefts were received through the WRPS Differential Police Response (DPR) center where reports were taken over the phone. After May 1, these call types were responded to by a patrol officer. Unfortunately, due to the shortage of evidence to investigate, available resources and competing priorities, vehicle theft occurrences are not often assigned to detectives.
Investigators attribute Fraud's 15.1% increase to organized crime groups targeting victims via a host of internet and phone scams with the intent to harvest identities. Once the identities are stolen they are then used in a variety of fraud schemes, ranging from simple to complex. The internet is being used as a vehicle to commit fraud by organized groups as it provides anonymity to the suspects who prey on victims from other geographic areas.
Other Criminal Code Violations, also considered non-violent, were 11.4% higher in 2015 than in 2014. The two most frequent violation types, Breach of Probation and Fail to Comply with Conditions, each with around two thousand counts, went up 13.9% and 7.6% respectively. Some other offences with hundreds of counts also rose, including Counterfeiting Currency (up 30% to 132 counts), Trespass at Night (up 24.3% to 169 counts) and Failure to Attend Court (up 35.1% to 608 counts). Some of the Other Criminal Code Violations that decreased include Indecent Acts (-19.3%), Obstruct Public Peace Officer (-14.8%), and Production/Distribution of Child Pornography (-13.6%) and Offences Against Public Order (Part II CC) (-18.2%).
Investigators attribute the increase in Counterfeiting Currency to organized crime groups who are taking advantage of the simple makeup of the American bill that allows it to be counterfeited. The same can be said about credit card fraud in the US as they have not evolved to chip technology with their credit cards allowing organized crime groups to harvest data here in Canada but use it in the US via credit card transactions.
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) offences experienced a -6.8% decrease. While Production of Cannabis is up 12.5%, Possession, Trafficking, and Importation/Exportation in general are all down (-5.9%, -12.5%, -50.0 respectively), notwithstanding specific increases in Heroin Possession (45.7%), “Crystal Meth” Possession (42.3%) and Cocaine Possession (12.1%).
Other Federal Statute Violations, specifically Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) offences, were down by 11.6% in Waterloo Region in 2015.
Criminal Code Traffic Violations experienced an overall increase (18.6%) in 2015, driven largely by Flight from Peace Officer (up 54.2%), Dangerous Operation (up 44%), and Other Criminal Code violations such as Failure to Stop or Remain (up 80.9%) and Driving While Prohibited (up 10.4%). Impaired Operation/Related Violations saw a decrease (-2.0%) which included decreases in Failure to Comply or Refusal (Alcohol) (-11.5%) and Operation of a Motor Vehicle, Vessel or Aircraft Over 80mg. (Drugs) (-33.3%). The count of Operation of a Motor Vehicle, Vessel or Aircraft Over 80 mg. (Alcohol) remains the same at just over 480 violations.
Investigators attribute the increase in Failure to Stop or Remain in part to improved coding methods by officers as well as having Traffic Branch officers investigate ‘hit-and-run’ collisions.
Moving forward, strategic enforcement, the encouragement of citizen reporting, and public education will continue.