Northern Economist 2.0

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Homicies Data Update: Thunder Bay Still Ranked First

Statistics Canada has just released the latest crime data report with the 2017 edition of Police Reported Crime Statistics. Overall, crime is up a bit in Canada.  While there has been some improvement in Thunder Bay's ranking when it comes to crime severity in general, what is of particular interest of course especially to us in Thunder Bay is the homicide rate.  According to Statistics Canada:

"After little change in 2016, the national homicide rate increased 7% in 2017, moving from 1.69 homicides per 100,000 population to 1.80. Police reported 660 homicides, 48 more than in 2016. The 2017 homicide rate was higher than the average for the previous decade (1.67 per 100,000 population for 2007 to 2016).

The increase in the national number of homicides was largely a result of the greater number of homicides in British Columbia (+30) and Quebec (+26).

With a total of seven homicides in 2017, Thunder Bay recorded the highest homicide rate among the CMAs for the second year in a row (5.80 homicides per 100,000 population). Abbotsford–Mission (with 9 homicides) and Edmonton (with 49 homicides) had the next highest homicide rates (4.72 and 3.49 per 100,000 population, respectively). Saguenay was the only CMA to report no homicides in 2017.

The attempted murder rate in Canada increased 4% from 2016 to 2017, to 2.25 per 100,000 population. A 25% increase in the province of Quebec was the main contributor to the overall national increase. This was due to the January 2017 shooting at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Qu├ębec. This incident resulted in six homicide victims and 40 victims of attempted murder."

I have done a number of posts on this topic over the years so its time to update some of the numbers. The two figures below plot the homicide rate (homicides per 100,000 of population) for Thunder Bay, Sudbury and Canada.  The first figure is the raw annual homicide rate while the second figure plots a smoothed series which gives you a better picture of the longer term trends. Annual numbers tend to have a lot of variation and you really should not base analysis or policy on one or two years of data. However, based on the smoothed series (LOWESS Smooth using a 0.8 bandwidth) you can see the picture that emerges here over the longer term.

While the homicide rate in Thunder Bay for 2017 is down from the previous year at 5.8 versus 6.6 homicides per 100,000, the long term trend in one of increase.  The annual  un-smoothed data suggests the upward trend began circa 2008-09 while the smoothed series suggests that it has been a 21st century phenomenon with the rise starting approximately around 2000.  Thunder Bay's homicide rate has diverged from the national trend which has been one of decline.

This is certainly one issue for the Fall 2018 municipal election.