As analysis of the pandemic and its effects continues, here is another result: falling crime rates. The police reported crime statistics for 2020 were released today and they show that in 2020 crime in Canada fell substantially after being on an upward trend since 2014. As the accompanying Figure 1 shows, as measured by the crime severity index, crime rates fell from 2000 to 2014 and then began to increase to 2019.
However, 2020 as a result of people being more at home saw a fall in crime. For example, there were significantly lower rates of breaking and entering, robbery, shoplifting and theft which is not surprising given that people were largely at home safeguarding their property and retail access was severely limited by assorted pandemic restrictions.
Police-reported crime in Canada, as measured by the Crime Severity Index (CSI), decreased 8% in the first year of the pandemic—falling from 79.8 in 2019 to 73.4 in 2020. The CSI was 11% lower than a decade earlier in 2010. One exception was an increase in police reported hate crimes which saw a 37 percent increase in 2020. Homicide rates also increased as well as police-reported opioid offenses.
More interesting is a ranking of the change in CSI by Canadian CMA as shown in Figure 2. The largest declines in crime severity were in Regina, Calgary, Ottawa, Barrie and Toronto and ranged from -20 percent to – 15 percent. However, some cities nevertheless saw increases in crime severity even during the pandemic with the largest increases in Kingston (4%), Greater Sudbury (7%) and Peterborough (14%).
northern Ontario CMAs had quite different profiles this time with Thunder Bay
mirroring the national trend coming in with a decline of 8 percent whereas
Sudbury saw an increase. Nonetheless, crime severity is still higher in Thunder Bay relative to Sudbury though the gap closed considerably in 2020. Sudbury saw increases in identity fraud, homicide and breaking and entering. Thunder Bay saw decreases in breaking and entering, shoplifting and theft though homicides were up.
However, the crime severity index is different from police reported crime rates. One is a weighted index with 2006 set at 100 while the other is the number of actual police reported crimes per 100,000 population. Here both Sudbury and Thunder Bay saw a decline in the number of police reported crimes per 100,000 population with Thunder Bay reporting a 16 percent drop and Greater Sudbury a 6 percent drop. The crime rate (as opposed to crime severity index) in 2020 was down in all the Canadian CMAs except one - Peterborough - which saw a 5 percent increase.
Of course, you are probably keenly interested in which CMA was number one for homicides in 2020 as measured by the homicide rate. Thunder Bay had 8 homicides in 2020 for a rate per 100,000 of 6.35 - putting it once again in the top spot for CMA homicide rates in Canada.