July 20, 2016 9:21 am
Updated: July 20, 2016 7:38 pm

Violent crime surges in Canada for the first time in 12 years

Crime was up in Canada last year for the first time in over a decade.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Stanford
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Police-reported crime in Canada went up last year for the first time in over a decade, Statistics Canada revealed on Wednesday, with particularly startling upswings in violent crime across the country.

The number of attempted murders alone was up 22 per cent year-over-year, the agency said.

Canada’s Crime Severity Index (CSI) and the overall crime rate both grew between 2014 and 2015, with the CSI (an index that measures both the volume and severity of police-reported crime) up 5 per cent.

“This marked the first rise in police-reported crime in 12 years,” Statistics Canada noted in a release. “But (the 2015 rate) was 31 per cent lower than it was a decade earlier in 2005.”

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The rise in the CSI was primarily a result of a sharp increase in incidents of fraud, breaking and entering, robbery and homicide, according to Statistics Canada.

Criminal Code violations “specific to the use, discharge and pointing of firearms” were, like attempted murders, up by around 22 per cent.

READ MORE: Saskatoon has highest reported crime rate in country for 2015

There were 15 per cent more homicides, 5 per cent more robberies, 4 per cent more sexual assaults, and 3 per cent more major assaults reported to police in 2015 than in the previous year.

Overall, there were almost 1.9 million Criminal Code incidents (excluding traffic violations) reported by police in 2015, around 70,000 more than in 2014.

Alberta bore the brunt of the increases, with the CSI in that specific province jumping by 18 per cent. That’s the largest spike seen in any province or territory since at least 2010.

“In Alberta, the higher CSI was primarily the result of more incidents of breaking and entering, theft of $5,000 or under, and motor vehicle theft,” Statistics Canada said.

The other major oil-producing provinces, including Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador, also experienced significant increases in property crime as their economies struggled with the falling price of oil.

Drug offences drop

As the overall CSI and crime rate went up, the number of drug offences in Canada continued a pattern of dropping year over year in 2015.

There were about 96,000 offences that fell under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act last year, representing a 9 per cent decrease.

While over half of those offences were incidents of marijuana possession, the overall rate of drug offences involving marijuana dropped 15 per cent compared to 2014.

READ MORE: Little if any heroin left in Vancouver, all fentanyl, say drug advocates

But it wasn’t all good news in terms of drug crime.

“Police reported a notable increase in the possession and trafficking, production and distribution of methamphetamines or crystal meth (+25 per cent) in 2015,” Statistics Canada reported.

“Rates also increased for drug offences related to heroin (+18 per cent), methylenedioxyamphetamine or ecstasy (+7 per cent) and “other drugs” such as LSD, “date rape” drugs and prescription drugs such as fentanyl (+6 per cent).”

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Fewer young offenders

The number of offenders between the ages of 12 and 17 dropped between 2014 and 2015, the new data shows, with about 2,700 fewer young people finding themselves in trouble with police.

Still, 92,000 young people were charged with a crime last year in Canada, and 35 of them were charged with a homicide. That’s six more alleged young killers than in 2014.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story stated the increase of 18 per cent in Alberta’s Crime Severity Index between 2014 and 2015 was the largest increase ever for any province. Global News was only able to confirm that it is the largest year-over-year percentage increase of any province since 2010.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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