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"For the past 8 years from 1999 there has been a 5% decrease in the rate

of crime among Canada’s three largest provinces and 9 largest metropolitan

areas." This was quoted by Statistics Canada on July 18, 2000, in a

publication of The Daily. Crime can be defined as "...any act or omission

regarded by a sizable segment of a given society as warranting formal

intervention to control, punish and prevent behaviours."1 However the

diminishing crime rate may not hold to be a true depiction of a national trend

in all provinces. The decreasing crime rate in relation to Canadian society as a

whole may not hold to be accurate for three main explanations; Statistics

Canada’s method of official data collection to reveal the crime rate does not

present a flawless process, there is an evident lack of uniformity amoung

different geographical segments, within Canada, in police reporting and

policies, and Canadian citizens views in relation to reporting and the crime

funnel, examined with unofficial data, prove to be a factor that consequently

influences crime statistics. Canadian society can be defined in relation to this

paper as; all Canadian citizens habituated within Canada holding everything

constant. (race, age, gender)

Statistics Canada utilizes data measured in a structure known as official

data, to yield information that explains criminal activity and crime trends.

Official data is data collected through the uniform crime reporting systems

(U.C.R). U.C.R was established in 1962. U.C.R represents data that is;

"actual offences, those reported or detected offences that have been found ,

upon preliminary investigation to have actually occurred, as opposed to being

unfounded."2 Therefore, official data is a measure of information collected

and accounted for on those crimes that have come to the attention of the

police. An example of a crime rate for homicide using official data would

equal, the division off the total population within a given city by the number

of murders in any given time period. In order for crime to be reported there

must be two characteristics distinguishable, actus reas and mens rea. Actus

reas is when there is an act apparent that violates some law. Mens rea is that

there is evident intent, although, if there is not we can then define the act as

negligent. Negligent being an act that violates some law, yet, was

unintentional. Canada uses official data as their primary method of data

collecting. With this in mind we must take a strong look at official data as a

means of determining the crime rate. We can then determine how the decrease

in crime rate that was quoted by Statistics Canada has the potential to be

flawed. First, we can consider from our definition of official data that this

type of data fails to encompass unfounded data. Data unreported and

therefore, unaccounted for, is known as the ‘dark figure’ of crime. The dark

figure of crime is ‘crime that fails to get processed through the crime funnel.’

The crime funnel will be examined in the analysis of unofficial data within

this report, however, to provide a quick definition is, the course of action

taken towards conviction. "Only 10% of all crimes get processed though this

system."3 We can determine then that 90% of crimes occurring are

overlooked using official data. Secondly, critics of official data argue that this

type of data does not tell us anything about actual crime. In fact it is more of a

depiction of police policies and procedures. "Crime statistics do not measure

criminal behaviour they measure the response of various agencies to their

perceptions of crime."4 We can then determine that the quote in the daily by

statistics Canada may hold to be flawed by lack of uniformity in measurement

by police in different jurisdictions. Thirdly, data in the U.C.R is collected on

more traditional types of crime. Traditional types of crime being street crimes

and fails to examine more serious crimes, such as murder. We should not

overlook the common flaws that may occur in the process of data collection

that may flaw the end result as well. Two different types of errors random

errors and systematic errors alter data conclusions. We will first look at

random errors. These are errors that are made with similar frequency and in a

random fashion in either way of the mean. When results that are incorrect and

errors in data measurement fall on both side of the mean evenly, in the end

they will balance each other out. For example, in some areas the rate may be

over reported where in others they may be underreported. The error is

randomized if we assume that they do balance each other out. However, we

cannot rely that the uneven distribution will always be equitable. The second

error is namely, systematic errors. These errors are inconsistent among each

different reporting system and is of no control of the police or data collectors

themselves. For example, data collection door to door. A man may fail to

acknowledge the question correctly and give an answer as to the number of

members in his household inaccurately. This is uncontrollable of the data

collector. Another error is a product of the court systems. The courts also

originate systematic differences. "One cannot compare court statistics from

place to place without taking into account the nature of the steps that lead to

cases going to court."5 Different handling operations lead to systematic

differences. Professional demographers have the ability to deal with

systematic errors and can adjust the numbers to get a more accurate count.

However, more accurate, does not mean correct. Subject to the flaws in

official data we can strongly argue that there is not a guarantee that we can

rely heavily on official data as a true depiction of the national crime rate, as

Statistics Canada does. Geographic differences also pose as a problem to the

verification of decreasing crime.

The quote in The Daily mentions that the crime rate has decreased in the

three largest provinces, these being, Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. It

also states that this does not follow a national trend in that the crime rates in

all four Atlantic provinces and the Yukon has increased. It further

distinguishes the crime rates in different provinces by explaining that the

crime rates in Manitoba and Alberta were essentially unchanged. Although

the overall crime rate fell this could be a factor of insufficient uniformity of

measurement. Jurisdictions have a different reporting process, as mentioned a

flaw in official data. Another factor to take into consideration is different

policing procedures amid different jurisdictions. In some areas compared to

others there may be differences in toleration levels. "What is tolerated in one

city may not be tolerated in another."6 The Canadian centre for justice

statistics studied crime reporting procedures and in doing so concluded

differences in reporting results. These variations were due to variances in the

operation of the information systems in the opposing administrations. It is not

reasonable to assume that one way to report crime is correct. There is not one

definite information system that is to be consistent among all Canadian

provinces or cities by law. Another reason that comparing provinces can be

misleading is the ‘Central City Phenomenon’. The Central City Phenomenon

is constructing a view taking into consideration the conditions found in central

cities opposed to small cities, that influence crime. "Cities surrounded by

populated areas, such as, suburbs, are more likely to act as "magnets" for

people living nearby."7 Central cities are well known targets for crime and

therefore it is not feasible to compare a city like Toronto, Ontario to one in

Victoria, BC, and quote the crime rate has fallen. In actuality the crime rate in

Victoria has risen but the media fails to acknowledge this trend on account

that the population is inferior and the city is not as dominant. Activities that

can be assigned to police fall under three main categories; crime control, order

maintenance and service. Crime Control is the process of police patrolling the

streets and responding to crime. This onus by the police force entails the use

of force accepted within the province or city of that province. This includes

proceedings that the police would practice in the making of an arrest. Order

maintenance is the operations of police to prevent and control behaviour by

citizens that disturbs the peace of others. As described by Curt T. Griffiths,

("preventing and controlling behaviour disturbing public peace...)"8 Service

are general duties by police and their coworkers to search for missing persons,

provide information to the public and the police performance of administrative

tasks to do paperwork and complete reports. "Police spend less then 25% of

their time in the act of conveying crime control, 20% of their time in order

maintenance and 17-50% of their time performing service duties."9 These

ratios prove that police in general do not spend all or even most of their job

time on preventing or encountering crime. Even taking into consideration the

difference in allocated times amoung job tasks we can assume that the

flexibility for missing crimes can be high. Amoung provinces where the

police force spend more time on crime control and have a greater opportunity

to find crime the quoted rate can be higher. When considering the demands

that are placed upon the police in all off these three categories factors such as

population, composition (age, enthicity, etc.) of that population, and nature

and extent of criminal activity alter the task environment of the police force.

Within the legal system different areas use different strategies for preventing

crime. Police in many areas do not do a very good job at preventing crime for

four main reasons stated by Professor Mawani at Brock University. First she

depicted the factor that in many larger cities there too few police officers for

the population. . The size of the police force in relation to the population in a

geographic area also affects the population. Following World war II the there

was an increase in the reported number of crimes as a result of: "changes in

the way police respond to crime, a growth in police force strength, and

changes in law."10 Vise versa to the aftermath of World war II we can say

that as the police force has decreased in relation to the population the crime

rate as decreased. For example, the beginning quote states that the crime rate

has decreased in larger provinces, however, the trend is not stable within the

smaller provinces. This can be viewed alternatively to say that as the

population increases in the larger provinces the police forces fails in the ability

to capture crime. Therefore in these larger provinces the dark figure of crime

is higher where the police force is insufficient to capture the overall crime

occurrence. With few police officers to patrol a larger area the crime rate will

diminish due to the fact that police are unable to capture all occurrences.

Secondly, the liberty of the criminal justice system. "A remedy would be to

increase police power and decrease human rights."11 The liberty of the

criminal justice system varies amoung provinces. Third, poorly trained and

unmotivated police officers make up a certain disproportionate percentage

amoung different areas. Fourth, police control the social factors that affect

crime. With greater social factors such as, gender inequality in a given

jurisdiction affecting crime, police are unable to empower over the factor and

control crime. Therefore they may choose to ignore crime that results from

these factors as socially permissible. Therefore concluding that what may be

of high importance in one area may differ in another. These differences create

a lack of uniformity in that police will respond to different calls and may cease

to recognize other crimes. To capture crime that is unreported and missed in

the official data collection as well as in the daily tasks of policing, unofficial

data is collected.

Unofficial data has discovered that Canadian citizens do not report

crime for various reasons. Crime not reported, the dark figure of crime, has

great potential to impact the crime rate. Unofficial data gathers responses

from Canadian Citizens to determine their views on crime through public

opinion poles, self-report data and victimization surveys. Examples of

unofficial data are; Violence Against Women Survey, National Crime Survey

and a General Social Survey. These surveys inform researchers on perceived

fears of crime and actual victimization rates. Unofficial data fills in the dark

figure of crime and aids in achieving a more accurate result of crime, however,

has its downfalls that can suggest an imprecise national crime rate. The first

indication through unofficial data that implies their may not be a true decrease

in the crime rate is "people may be reluctant to report victimization."12 Many

Canadians are not aware of the criminal justice system and the crime funnel,

the process through which an individual must go through to be convicted after

the crime is observed. "Only 10% get processed through the crime funnel."13

This is a result of the actuality that people are hesitant to report their

victimization. The crime funnel suggests that an event must occur and be

detected, noticed or witnessed and interpreted as an offence. Secondly, where

many citizens fail to follow through, the interpreter of the offence must notify

authorities and then a decision must be made to go forward to the criminal

justice authorities. If the decision to notify authorities is made police proceed

with charges and/or make an arrest. The crown will then, with enough

evidence, proceed to make a date for a court appearance and hold a trial. The

Judge, will decide on a conviction or to discharge the accused. If the judge

decides to sentence the accused, which includes a fine, probation, or jail time

there is an end result of a criminal. A criminal must break a law if not they are

just viewed as deviant. Reasons that crime is not reported by victims is due to

fear, issues of shame or emotional trauma. Results of victimization surveys

show that "Canadians in general are becoming more fearful of crime

especially violent crime."14 The fear of crime is strongly linked to

vulnerability and 69% of people surveyed think that the overall crime rate and

murder rate is increasing. Women, especially older women are more fearful of

crime. These women who are more fearful, of crime feel safer in their homes

than on the streets. These outcomes of unofficial data are quite different then

the outcomes of official data. Official data shows that the older you are the

less likely you are to be a victim. Official data statistics also prove that males

aged 18-25 are most likely to be victims of crimes. This as a result shows that

the difference in outcomes from unofficial and officials data may prove to be a

repercussion from various uncertainties in the collection process. Problems

with unofficial data cause an unreliable end result. One main problem is that

when falling-out victimization surveys and other self report data the individual

may not remember whether they have been victims of crime. The may have

either ignored the fact that they were a victim, may have just forgotten or may

have been in a unstable condition at the time to recollect the situation.

Another problem with unofficial data is that individuals may lie about their

victimization or even exaggerate their victimization. This can include any

situation where the victim lies to get attention or overemphasized the extent to

which the situation occurs. The final end may also result in ineffective

dependability if individuals are indisposed to report their victimization. This

can result from previous issues discussed including fear of the police,

unknowing of criminal justice systems and confusion in regulation to report

crime along with fear of the police.

Crime Statistics as quoted by Statistics Canada in the July 18, 2000 publication of

the Daily, may have in fact held an accurate and true depiction of the crime rate.

However, with various flaws in crime reporting, data gathering and jurisdictional

variations we can see why Canadians are still fearful of crime. We can defend

effortlessly those who disagree with Statistics Canada quote on a decreasing crime rate

through proven disjunction’s in data. Police may maintain their role within society to

deter those from crime and maintain control, but, will always by social factors and

judicial discretion’s amoung sentencing be opposing an uncontrollable force. Overall,

we can justify the fear of crime by Canadians in remarking that, not until, and probably never, has crime proven without shortcomings to have decreased amoung all geographic locations, will we be satisfied to truly believe that Canadian society is in fact becoming a safer environment

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