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Chapter Wk 2

SOC 2760 Chapter Notes - Chapter Wk 2: Homicide

Course Code
SOC 2760
Rob Shearer
Wk 2

of 12
Canadian Homicide Rates: A Comparison of Two Data
Sources (Gabor, Hung, Mihorean, St-Onge)
Homicide has served as the leading indicator of crime and violence in a number of contexts
Sexual assault is defined more broadly in Canada than other countries
Rape laws: confined to acts involving attempted or actual sexual penetration
Canadian context: “sexual assault” includes behaviours such as nonconsensual sexual touching
Homicide is viewed as the best gauge of crime in analyses within countries
This offence is more likely to be discovered and to be the subject of a serious investigation
Counts of nonfatal violence is incomplete, discrepancies occur because of:
Victimizations may not be recognized as crimes
Embarrassment or psychological stigma inhibits reporting
Victims are sometimes reluctant to involve authorities
Consequences may not be thought worth reporting as crimes
Indicator of the priority given to homicide investigations
The number of major police departments that have specialized units for investigation of homicide
The attention devoted to homicide on the media
This crime receives coverage that is profoundly disproportionate to its volume
Countries collect two largely independent sets of statistics on homicide
One set is derived from police services
Benefit from the criminal investigative experience of police departments
Within Canada, police departments provide detailed info each year to Stats Canada on all
homicides occurring within their jurisdiction
The other from death certificates
Benefit from coroners’ investigations and medical opinions regarding the cause of death
Mortality survey covers all deaths occurring in Canada, as well as of Canadian residents deaths
occurring in the US
The number and causes of deaths are sent to Stats Canada from Vital Stats Registry of each
Criminological studies have relied on police and usually ignore mortality data
The paper raises awareness about existence of the two distinct sources of homicide data,
compares homicide figures created by these two sources and have some reasons for differences
Study examines if differences have been more pronounced in some Canadian jurisdictions and
whether these differences varied over time
Reliability of homicide figures is greatest in family homicides, followed by those involving friends
and acquaintances, and strangers were most likely underreported
Every year from 1970 to 1997 the numbers drawn from the Homicide Survey exceed those from the
Mortality Database
The gap between the two databases has grown over time
The surveys had similar minimum figures but differed in peak years
Maybe during the peak years there were more incidents of a type that medical examiners were less
likely to classify as homicides
The differences between the two surveys were not dramatic but were sufficient enough to merit
further investigation
The differences seem to be increasing over time
Differences are in the opposite direction of those found in America
Rates from mortality surveys are higher than police reports
Canada, two databases came up with different numbers of homicides and also arrived at different
conclusions regarding homicide trends
Homicide Survey suggested a stabilizing homicide rate whereas Mortality Survey showed a decline
between 1977-1997
Question arises if differences between databases is related to nature of homicide or the
circumstances surrounding the incident
American investigators found differences are caused by three factors
Mortality stats include civilian justifiable homicides and homicide reports exclude them
Some American law enforcement agencies do not participate in the UCR program
The timing of the recording of the incident
Police record the date of the incident or date of their discovery of it
Mortality stats record date of victim’s death
This could cause the reporting of the same incident in two different reporting periods
UNODC – Global Study on Homicide: Chapter 6 – Data
Gaps in Data Availability
Data in this report cover all United Nations Member Stats and a number of territories/autonomous
Derived from national data repositories generated by
The criminal justice – data from law enforcement authorities in the process of recording and
investigating a criminal case
Or the public health system – produced by health authorities certifying the cause of death of
In the case of 70 countries where neither of these sources is available, data was derived from
estimates produced by the World Heath Organization
Based on a standardized statistical model used to produce data
The number of countries able to produce criminal justice data is greater than those who produce
public health stats
The lack of national homicide data and the need to use model-based data for the 70 countries is
the result of two challenges:
Limited capacity to establish or maintain a national registration system of crimes and/or deaths
Weak reporting channels transmitting national data to international organizations
There is a gap in the availability of disaggregated data
Availability of data related to victim, the perpetrators, the relationship between them, the context
and the motivation behind the killing