January 13, 2015 4:02 pm
Updated: January 13, 2015 8:12 pm

Why people think crime is increasing, despite stats showing otherwise


WATCH: Mark Carcasole reports on a new survey about how the public feels about crime rates and Toronto police.

TORONTO – A new poll suggests more than half of Torontonians think crime in the city is increasing despite a long trend otherwise.

A survey by Mainstreet Technologies found 54 per cent of the 2,320 people surveyed thought Toronto was becoming increasingly dangerous.

That number was highest – 66 per cent – in Scarborough.

But that opinion, though wrong, is nothing new.

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“Every survey I’ve ever seen… shows that people think crime is worse than it is,” Toronto Police spokesperson Mark Pugash said in an interview Tuesday.

“This is something that always concerns us, people think crime is much worse than it is, they restrict their behaviour, they don’t go out perhaps as much, use parks, and open spaces and that’s a problem.”

The same is true across the country as Canada’s crime rate hit the lowest point in 40 years in 2012, according to Statistics Canada.

READ MORE: Poll suggests small majority disapprove of Toronto Police carding

The number of police-reported crimes fell again in 2013, with 132,000 fewer crimes being reported than 2012, according to Statistics Canada. The statistics agency also considers Toronto one of the safest big cities in Canada. Barrie and Guelph are the two cities with the lowest crime rates.

Dr. Oren Amitay, a Toronto-area registered psychologist, suggested the feeling that crime is increasing is a cognitive bias people have towards what they see the most and the news generally doesn’t show stories about people getting home safely.

“It’s basically, it’s what you are seeing, what you are exposed to,” he said.

“The media is more likely to present crime statistics and crime stories rather than feel good stories.”

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