Alberta saw largest drop in crime severity in Canada in 2020, says StatCan report

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Most provinces saw a drop in the crime severity index during the pandemic, with Alberta seeing one of the largest reductions in the country at 11 per cent, according to numbers released by Statistics Canada.

During the first year of the pandemic, the violent crime severity index dropped four per cent Canada-wide, while the non-violent crime severity index fell 10 per cent.

Calgary saw a 17 per cent drop in its crime severity index, which was the second largest in the country, behind Regina, Sask. (-20 per cent).

Ottawa (-16 per cent), Barrie, Ont. (-15 per cent), and Toronto (-15 per cent) round out the top five municipal drops.

Some cities saw their crime severity index go the other way. Peterborough, Ont., saw a 14 per cent increase, followed by Greater Sudbury, Ont. (7 per cent), Kingston, Ont. (four per cent), Victoria (three per cent) and Halifax, N.S. (two per cent).

The drop is largely the result of health restrictions forcing people to stay home more, said Deputy Chief Chad Tawfik with the Calgary Police Service.

"You certainly saw that across the country with the pandemic and related restrictions that were put in place," he said. "Most notably, we saw the biggest impacts over the first  three months of 2020 ... driven by a decrease in property crimes, robberies and reported sexual assaults."

Looking at different types of offence, shoplifting under $5,000 (-36 per cent) and theft under $5,000 (-20 per cent) had the biggest reductions, along with robbery (-18 per cent), break and entering (-16 per cent) and sexual assault (-9 per cent).

The number of police-reported hate crimes increased 37 per cent to 2,669.

"Hate crimes targeting the Black population, East or Southeast Asian population, Indigenous population, and South Asian population accounted for most of the national change," read a release from StatCan.

There were 743 homicide victims in Canada in 2020, which was 56 more than in 2019.

Police do expect the crime severity inex to go back up now that restrictions are loosening, said Tawfik.

"We're anticipating a bit of a rebound in that regard, as far as activity, and that can be driven by a lot of factors, not just things opening up, but also economic conditions and other things. We are certainly watching that and tracking that."

CSI changes by province:

  • Alberta (-11 per cent);
  • Prince Edward Island (-11 per cent);
  • Manitoba (-10 per cent);
  • Ontario (-9 per cent);
  • B.C. (-8 per cent);
  • Quebec (-7 per cent);
  • Saskatchewan (-6 per cent);
  • Newfoundland and Labrador (-4 per cent);
  • Nunavut (-1 per cent);
  • Yukon (one per cent);
  • New Brunswick (three per cent);
  • Northwest Territories (six per cent), and;
  • Nova Scotia (eight per cent).