CRIMINOLOGY: LECTURE ONE:
Topic: Public fascination with crime in general and violent crime in particular
Statistics Canada’s Time-Use Survey: most common leisure-time activity of Canadians
McLuhan: “first curriculum” for young
“Free time” = “Prime Time”
Culture Statistics Program’s Television Project: average hours of viewing: 22 hrs. per week
U.S.: prosecutors have blamed “CSI effect” for cases being dismissed or the accused acquitted
when there is a lack of forensic evidence presented in court.
Survey conducted in Maricopa County,Arizona: jurors indicated disappointment when there was
a lack of forensic evidence at the trial they sat on
~75% expected scientific evidence
One episode of CSI: ~$3 million to produce (equal to annual budget of a real lab)
Study by criminologist Jean-Paul Brodeur of 153 homicides committed in Montreal between
forensic evidence used in only 0.7% of cases
*22.5% cases: use eyewitness accounts
*20.5% cases: spontaneous confession
Quebec provincial police forensic scientistAlexandre Beaudoin (invented application for a
solution used to lift fingerprints off wet paper) - opinions that “99% of what you see [on CSI] is
real but it’s so extreme, you couldn’t do it in real life”
*Misleading impression of how criminal/forensic investigations really take place: Canadian
auditor general’s report: crime lab work takes between 80-188 days
1 Durkheim: crime “functional”
1. Response to crime leads to social stability by drawing group together against offender
-reinforces moral imperatives, social norms and values
e.g., 1847 hanging of Maria and Frederick Manning, Horsemongers Lane Gaol
Charles Dickens, “city of devils”
the “attraction of repulsion”:
“no sorrow, no salutary terror, no abhorrence, no seriousness; nothing but ribaldry,
debauchery, levity, drunkenness and flaunting vice...It was so loathsome, pitiful and vile a
sight, that the law appeared to be as bad as he, or worse, being very much the stronger,
and shedding round it a far more dismal contagion.”
Effects of Media Presentation of Crime
I. Distorted perceptions of the incidence of crime in Canadian society and the most
common dynamics of criminal victimization.
Reginald Bibby (1995): survey conducted during trial of Paul Bernardo
85% of Canadians: believed that there had been an increase in crime in Canada over the
past five years
60% - increase in violent crime
Canada Day Poll (2004)
*Percentage of Canadians who identified crime as the most important problem in their
*Percentage who believed crime has risen over the past 5 years: 59%
* Province whose residents were most afraid of being a victim of crime: British Columbia
P.M. Stephen Harper (June, 2008):
“Everywhere I go, I hear the same refrain: ‘Crack down on criminals, get guns, gangs and
drugs off our streets, stop behaviour that threatens our property and our persons, make
our communities safer....”
Also announced that his government would be toughening a criminal justice system
“That has been moving in the wrong direction for 30 years. It’s a system that has coddled
criminals and made our communities less safe, and we are determined to replace it with a
system that serves the interests of its law-abiding citizens.”
Pushing the “crime button”: common political refrain
2 Critics: “drive-by-policy-making” - cashing in on public fears or outrage
* “Almost 2 million crimes reported to police in 2012”
The “crime rate” and the “crime severity index”
In Canada, there are two complementary ways police-reported crime can be measured:
the traditional crime rate and the Crime Severity Index (CSI). The crime rate measures
the volume of crime while the Crime Severity Index measures the seriousness of crime.
Crime rate: The police-reported crime rate is based upon all criminal incidents, excluding
Criminal Code traffic offences, drug offences and other federal statute offences, as well
as provincial statute offences. Traffic offences are not included in the calculation of the
The crime rate is calculated by summing criminal incidents (excluding traffic offences as
well as other provincial and federal statute offences) reported to the police and dividing
by the population. In this calculation, all offences are counted equally; for example, one
incident of murder is counted in the same way as one incident of bicycle theft.
As such, the crime rate tends to be driven by high-volume, less serious offences, such as
minor thefts and mischief.
The crime rate is expressed as a rate per 100,000 population.
Crime Severity Index: The Crime Severity Index (CSI) not only takes into account the
volume of crime but also the seriousness of crime. In the calculation of the CSI, each
offence is assigned a weight, derived from average sentences handed down by criminal
courts. The more serious the average sentence, the higher the weight for that offence.As
a result, more serious offences have a greater impact on changes in the index.
All offences, including traffic offences as well as other provincial and federal statute
offences, are included in the CSI.
In addition to the overall CSI, there is a violent CSI and a non-violent CSI.
There is also a CSI specific to youth.As with the youth crime rate, counts are based upon
the number of youth (12 to 17 years) accused of crime rather than the number of
incidents. As is the case for the CSI in general, there is a youth overall CSI, a youth
violent CSI and a youth non-violent CSI.
Police-reported crime in Canada continues to decrease
The police-reported crime rate, which measures the total volume of crime per 100,000
population, continued to decline in 2012, down 3% from 2011.After peaking in 1991, the
police-reported crime rate has generally declined and, in 2012, it reached its lowest level
3 Canadian police services reported about 2 million Criminal Code offences in 2011,
almost 36,000 fewer than in 2010.
Over the past decade, the severity of police-reported crime has decreased in all but one
In 2012, there was also a decrease in some of the most frequent violent crimes, such as
common assault and robbery
As in past years, both the volume and severity of police-reported crime were found to be
highest in the territories, particularly in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
Saskatchewan remained the province with the highest crime rate and CSI in 2012. Only
the territories reported higher crime rates and CSIs
5 Among the provinces, those in the west reported higher crime rates and crime severity
compared to those in the east, continuing a well established trend.
After recording the highest overall police-reported crime rate for the previous four years,
Regina ranked second among census metropolitan areas (CMAs) in 2012. Regina’s crime
rate declined 10% from 2011, while Kelowna’s rose 6%, resulting in this city having the
highest rate among CMAs in 2012.
Chart 4: PoliceReported Crime Severity Index, by census metropolitan area (CMA), 2012
6 Toronto reported a 7% decrease in its police-reported crime rate in 2012, and was
the CMA with the lowest overall crime rate for the sixth consecutive year. Québec’s rate
was second lowest, and recorded the lowest CSI.Most CMAs saw lower CSIs in 2012.
Only Moncton, Windsor, Kelowna, Guelph, St. Catharines–Niagara, Gatineau and
Brantford had higher CSIs than in the previous year.
7 Chart 5: Policereported Violent Crime Severity Index, by census
metropolitan area, 2012
8 Looking at violent crime, Winnipeg reported the highest violent Crime Severity Index,
followed by Saskatoon and Thunder Bay
The police-reported violent crime rate declined in 2012, down 3% from 2011 to 1,190
incidents per 100,000 population. Canadian police services reported about
415,000 violent incidents, about 9,000 fewer than in 2011. The police-reported violent
crime rate was at its lowest level since 1987.
Most types of violent crime decreased between 2011 and 2012. Offences causing
death other than homicide (which include, for example, criminal negligence causing
death, but exclude traffic violations causing death). as well as extortion, firearm
offences and sexual violations against children, were among the few types of violent
crime whose rate increased in 2012
Among the provinces, Saskatchewan had the highest violent crime rate in 2012,
despite reporting the largest decrease from 2011. Ontario had the lowest rate.All
provinces and territories except Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador,
Quebec, and Nunavut recorded declines in their police-reported violent crime rates.
The overall severity of violent crime, as measured by the violent CSI, also declined in
2012 The violent CSI was down in every province except Newfoundland and
Labrador and Prince Edward Island.
Despite the increase, Prince Edward Island continued to record the lowest violent Crime
Severity Index among the provinces while the violent CSI was greatest in Manitoba.
Similar to the overall crime rate, violent crime rates and violent CSIs were higher for
the territories than for the provinces.All territories recorded a decrease of either its
violent crime rate or its violent CSI. Yukon, the territory with the lowest violent crime
rates and CSI, recorded a decrease in both measures.
Canada records its lowest homicide rate in more than 40 years
Police reported 543 homicides in 2012, 55 fewer than in 2011.As a result,
the homicide rate fell 10%, to 1.56 per 100,000 population, its lowest level since 1966.
In contrast, there were 11 more incidents of attempted murder than in 2011 and an
additional 21 other violations causing death
Chart 5: Attempted murder and homicide, policereported rates, Canada,
1982 to 2012
Chart 6: Homicide, policereported rate, by province and territory, 2012
10 The decrease in the number of homicides was more pronounced in Western Canada.
Together, Alberta (-24), British Columbia (-16), and Saskatchewan (-9) were responsible
for most of the decline in 2012. Nevertheless, homicide rates remained lower in Eastern
Canada. Every province east of Manitoba, except Nova Scotia, recorded a homicide rate
that was below the national average
Downward trend in police-reported sexual assaults continues
About 21,900 sexual assaults were reported to police in 2012, about 60 fewer than in
the previous year. This relatively modest decline is primarily due to a decrease in
major sexual assaults (levels 2 and 3). However, the number of sexual assaults
reported by police likely understates the actual number of sexual assaults that occurred
in Canada in 2012.According to 2009 victimization data from the General Social
Survey, the vast majority of sexual assaults are never reported to police
For the second consecutive year, the number of sexual offences against children
increased slightly (+3%). These crimes include violations specific to children, such as
sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching, sexual exploitation, and luring a
child via a computer. Police reported nearly 4,000 such offences in 2012
Major assaults decline in 2012 yet remain higher than a decade ago
11 Assault is the most common form of violent crime in Canada, accounting for more
than one-half of all police-reported violent offences.Assaults are divided into three
levels on the basis of severity with level 3 being the most severe. In 2012, police
reported more than 223,000 level 1, 2 and 3 assaults, about 10,600 assaults against a
peace officer, and nearly 3,000 other types of assaults (e.g., criminal negligence
causing bodily harm)
All types of assault were down in 2012 compared to the previous year. The largest
decrease was in the rate of assaults against a peace officer (-8%).
Despite these decreases, the rates of major assault (levels 2 and 3) and assault against
a peace officer remained higher than 10 years ago
Chart 7: Major assault (levels 2 and 3) and robbery, policereported rates,
Cnada, 1982 to 2012
Most provinces and territories recorded declines in their rates of major assault in 2012.
Only Nunavut and Newfoundland and Labrador recorded higher rates.Among the
provinces, Saskatchewan and Manitoba had the highest major assault rates while Prince
Edward Island recorded the lowest rate.
Robbery, one of the most serious and most frequent types of violent crime, also fell in
2012 and reached its lowest level in more than 30 years.
12 Break-ins and motor vehicle thefts continue to decline
Break and enter and motor vehicle theft are two of the most common police-reported
offences in Canada. Every year in Canada, there is on average about one break-in
every three minutes and one motor vehicle theft every seven minutes. However, these
two types of offences have declined sharply in recent years. This trend continued in
Chart 8: Break and enter and motor vehicle theft, policereported rates,
Canada, 1982 to 2012
More police-reported incidents of identity fraud
In January 2010, new legislation dealing with identity theft and identity fraud in
Canada came into force. In 2012, police services reported 12,739 incidents of identity
theft or identity fraud, about 700 more, or 5% more, than in 2011. During the same
period, police reported about an additional 700 incidents of fraud other than identity
fraud compared to 2011. The identity fraud rate varied substantially across the
country, from 70 incidents per 100,000 in Quebec to 46 in British Columbia and 10 or
fewer in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nunavut and Manitoba.
13 Increase in police-reported terrorism-related incidents
In 2001, the Canadian government passed a number of laws in an effort to combat
terrorism (Anti-terrorism Act, S.C. 2001, c.41). These laws specifically prohibit, for
example, participating in any activity of a terrorist group, perpetrating a hoax
regarding terrorist activities or facilitating a terrorist activity
According to police-reported data, terrorism-related incidents remain extremely rare in
Canada. In 2012, police reported 114 such incidents, less than one incident per
100,000 population. Nevertheless, this was nearly double the number of incidents
reported in the previous year. The increase was largely due to an additional 62 hoax
terrorism incidents that occurred in Quebec in 2012 compared to 2011
Of the 114 terrorism-related incidents reported in 2012, 11 were cleared by police—in
other words, solved—at the time the data were submitted to Statistics Canada. Of the 11
cleared incidents, three resulted in formal charges being laid or recommended by police
against a total of eight accused persons.
Cannabis-related incidents down, but other drug-related incidents up
Drug-related offences in Canada fall under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
In 2012, police reported more than 109,000 drug-related incidents, representing a rate
of 314 incidents per 100,000 population
Overall, fewer drug-related incidents were reported in 2012 than in 2011. The decline
was due primarily to a decrease in cannabis-related incidents, which accounted for
two-thirds of all drug-related incidents reported by police. Nearly all types of other
drug offences increased. The largest increase in police-reported drug offences in 2012
was in cocaine possession (+5%), although over the previous 10-year period, the rate
of possession of drugs other than cannabis and cocaine rose most, up 89%.
British Columbia, which was the province reporting the highest overall rate of drug
offences in recent years, had about 2,000 fewer cannabis-related incidents in 2012.
Nevertheless, British Columbia continued to report the highest rates for some specific
drugs, such as cannabis, heroin and ecstasy offences. It also had the second highest
rate of methamphetamine (crystal meth) incidents, behind Quebec, but well above the
Overall, rates of drug-related offences were generally higher in the territories than in
Saskatchewan had the highest overall rate of police-reported drug offences in 2012,
followed by British Columbia.
14 Chart 9: Drug offences and impaired driving, police-reported rates, Canada, 1982 o 2012
Decline in impaired driving incidents
After generally rising over the previous five years, both the number and rate of
impaired driving decreased in 2012. However, the number of drug-impaired driving
incidents continued to climb, reaching nearly 2,000 in 2012, or 2% of impaired
driving incidents. The decrease in the overall impaired driving rate was primarily due
to a large decline in British Columbia (-24%) where, in 2011, the introduction of the
Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP) in British Columbia provided an alternative
method for police to proceed with penalties for impaired drivers; this may account for
some of the change reported between 2011 and 2012. There was also a notable
decrease in Prince Edward Island (-33%) after Charlottetown altered how they treat
calls from the public regarding impaired driving which accounts for the decrease at the
municipal and provincial levels for 2012.
15 Chart 10: Persons accused of crime, age 12 to 65 years, Canada, 2011
16 Chart 11: Policereported youth Crime Severity Indexes, Canada, 2002 to
Chart 12: Youth accused of crime, by selected offence, Canada, 2012
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.
In Canada, youth (12 to 17 years) and adults (18 years and older) accused of crime are
governed by separate justice systems.
Among all persons accused by police in 2012, over 125,000 were aged 12 to 17 years,
representing a rate of 5,224 accused per 100,000 youths
As such, the Police-reported youth accused rate and the youth Crime Severity
Index was down for the third consecutive year
18 However, these rate may be underestimates since any rate that is based upon age of the
accused persons does not take into account offenders who were not identified by
Chart 13: Youth accused of crime, by selected offence, Canada, 2012
The majority of accused youth in 2012 were involved in non-violent incidents. The
most common type of youth crime was theft of $5,000 or under. More specifically,
18% of youth accused of a Criminal Code (excluding traffic violations) or federal
statute offence were accused of theft of $5,000 or under, usually shoplifting
Level 1 assault was the most common type of violent offence committed by youth in
2012. Approximately one out of eight accused youth (11%) was accused in connection
with an incident of Level 1 assault. Uttering threats (4%) was the second most
common violent youth offence. In addition, youth accused rates were down sharply in
2012 for some of the most serious violent crimes, particularly major assaults (levels 2
and 3) (-10%) robbery (-8%) and homicide, of which 12 fewer were reported in 2012
Other relatively common offences committed by youth were mischief (11%),
administration of justice violations (10%) and cannabis possession (10%).
19 So, the News Is: Overall, both the volume and the severity of crime declined in 2012. The decrease was
observed in most provinces. Only New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and the territories recorded increases
between 2011 and 2012 in their crime rates and CSIs.
There were declines in both the numbers and the rates for most offences. In particular, in 2012, Canada reached its
lowest homicide rate in more than 40 years. That said, offences causing death other than homicide were up, as
were extortion, identity fraud, terrorismrelated offences and arson. Slight increases were also seen in violent
firearms offences, sexual offences against children, attempted murder and noncannabis drug offences.
Youth crime was also down in 2012. Both the youth accused rate and the youth CSI declined for a third consecutive
year. Half of the youth accused of crime were accused of theft of $5,000 or under, mischief, level 1 assault or
Reporting Crime: Style of Presentation: “And the Top Story Is....”?
Centre for Media and PublicAffairs (CMPA)
N=134,449 news stories on ABC, CBS and NBC 1990-1999
“If it bleeds, it leads”
1990-1992: less than 10 stories per year
1993-1996 (excluding O.J. coverage) 352 stories per year
1997-1999: 511 stories per year
Schism with real-world murder rates
(U.S. - down 42% from 1990)
Media focus: violent crime
* Simplistic reporting of statistics
e.g., increase in violent crime
-may flow from changes in policy initiative, police training, public education
Study in London, Ontario, effect of then-new mandatory police charging policy in cases
of domestic violence
1979-1990: rate of charging increased from 2.7% of 89.9%
e.g., reporting of child abduction
“Holly’s killer a ‘monster” say police”
20 “Video cyber-proofs kids against predators”
“Over 60,000 missing children in Canada"
Abduction and Kidnapping Prevention Tips for Parents and Guardians
The tips noted below will help families lessen the opportunity for abduction and
kidnapping and better safeguard their children.
1. Teach your children to run away from danger, never toward it. Danger is
anyone or anything invading their personal space. If anyone should try to grab
them, tell them to make a scene; loudly yell this person is not my
father/mother/guardian; and make every effort to get away by kicking, screaming,
and resisting. Their safety is more important than being polite. Teach your
children if they are ever followed in a vehicle to turn around and run in the other
direction to you or another trusted adult.
2. Never let your children go places alone, and always supervise your young
children or make sure there is another trusted adult present to supervise them if
you cannot. Make sure your older children always take a friend when they go
3. Know where your children are and whom they are with at all times. Remind
children to never take anything or respond in any way if approached by anyone
they don’t know, and also remind them to never approach a vehicle without your
permission. Teach them to run away as quickly as possible to you or another
4. Talk openly to your children about safety and encourage them to tell you or a
trusted adult if anyone or anything makes them feel scared, uncomfortable, or
confused. Discuss safety issues with your children so they will understand the
need for precautions.Advise your older children about steps they may take to help
safeguard themselves. Know your children’s friends and their families. Pay
attention to your children and listen to them. If you don’t, someone else may.And
others may have ulterior motives for befriending your children.
5. Practice what you teach by creating “what if” scenarios with your children to
make sure they understand the safety message and are able to use it in a real
6. Consider installing an alarm system in your home with a monitoring feature. If
you do not have an alarm system, consider purchasing less expensive wireless
door and window alarms. Make sure your home is secured with deadbolt locks,
and ensure landscaping around it doesn’t provide places for people to hide. Check
other access points such as gates, and make sure they have been secured. Consider
installing exterior lighting around your home. Make sure your home is fully
secured before you go to sleep and items such as ladders have been stored inside.
21 Prepare a plan to vacate your home in case of any emergency. This should include
but is not limited to a fire. Have a plan if an intruder tries or gets into your home.
7. Make your children part of securing your home. If you have installed an alarm
system, demonstrate it to your children and show them how to make sure doors
and windows are locked. This will not only help calm their fears but will also help
make them part of your “safety plan” at home.
8. Have a list of family members who could be contacted in case of an
emergency. Designate a family member or close associate who would be able to
fill the role of advisor in case of an emergency.
9. Be alert to and aware of your surroundings. Know the “escape routes” and plan
what you would do in different emergencies. Practice “what if” scenarios, so you
will be well prepared. Know the location of local hospitals and best routes to take
to reach them. Know how to reach the nearest local lawenforcement agency or
10. Know your employees and coworkers. Do background screening and reference
checks on everyone who works at your home, particularly those individuals who
care for your children. Their knowledge of your family is extensive so make sure
you have an equivalent understanding of them. National access to sex-offender
registries is available at www.nsopw.gov.
11. Consider varying your daily routines and habits. Do not take the same routes
or go at the same time on your regular errands. If you take your children to
school, change that route as well.
12. Take steps to secure personal information about yourself. Consider getting a
post office box and registering everything you may there including your vehicles
and drivers’licenses. Have personal bills sent to your place of work or the post
office box. Be discreet about your possessions and family’s personal habits and
information. Take steps to protect your identity by not revealing too much
information and notifying authorities of any irregularities.
13. Report any suspicious persons or activities to law enforcement.If you feel
anyone in your family has been targeted or is being stalked, immediately report
this information to law-enforcement authorities. Do not wait.
14. Remember you are your best resource for better safeguarding your family. Stay
alert, informed, and vigilant about personal-security issues.
Katherine M. Brown, Robert D. Keppel, Joseph G. Weis, and Marvin E. Skeen. Case
Management for Missing Children Homicide Investigation: Executive Summary.
Olympia, Washington: Office of theAttorney General State of Washington and U.S.
Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, May
2006, page 33,
22 However: “Stranger Danger” – incomplete message
Definition of “missing”
**In category in missing children it includes other children other than those who are
victims of abduction. The largest category of children that is missing are those who run
Better thing to research is why these children find it better to live on the streets than at
home. Crimes at home are invisible such as physical and emotional abuse or incest.
Generally we see a decrease as the child custody laws have become less gendered and
more equitable and no need to kidnap- presumption joint custody- unless thee is a reason
for no joint custody than court will grant it. Legal custody means both parents have joint