Crime rate continues to slide

Thu Jul 17, 2008 6:38pm EDT
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By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Canada's crime rate fell last year to its lowest rate in 30 years, continuing a trend that began in the early 1990s, figures released on Thursday show.

The overall crime rate in 2007 was down 7 percent from the year before with fewer serious violent crimes, such as murder, and a lower rate of "high volume" crimes such as minor property thefts, Statistics Canada reported.

It was the third consecutive year in which the national crime rate dropped, according to the federal statistical agency, which collected the data from police reports.

An aging population and changing attitudes towards violence are likely part of the reason the crime rate has continued to improve on a percentage basis since its peak in 1991, according to Simon Fraser University criminologist Neil Boyd.

"We are less tolerant of violence," he said.

Canada recorded 594 homicides in 2007, or about two for every 100,000 people, a 3 percent decline from 2006, according to the report.

Boyd cautioned that the figures also indicate that while there may be fewer people committing crimes, a "harder core" of individuals is committing more crime.

Police in some cities such as Toronto and Vancouver have complained of increasing gun use by gang members. Both of those cities have suffered several high-profile shooting incidents in recent years.   Continued...