There’s nowhere in Canada where a crime is more likely to go unsolved than in British Columbia.
That’s according to a new report card on Canada’s justice system, which showed that the scores for solving both violent and non-violent crime were lower on the West Coast than in any other province or territory across the country in 2017.
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The report card, which was the second of its kind produced by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute for Public Policy, assigned scores for unsolved crime based on weighted clearance rates in both provinces and territories.
“A well-functioning, fair, and just criminal justice system is vital to Canadians,” said the report by co-authors Benjamin Perrin, a professor at UBC’s Allard School of Law, and Richard Audas, a professor of health statistics and economics at Memorial University.
“We hope that by once again bringing some focused attention to the major strengths and shortcomings of the criminal justice system, in each province and territory, that necessary reforms will be introduced to improve public safety, support for victims, better management of costs and resources, greater efficiency and provide greater fairness and access to justice.”
A clearance rate refers to the share of criminal incidents that are solved by police; a weighted clearance rate attributes values to certain crimes based on their severity, so that the rates aren’t dominated by less serious crimes like mischief and minor thefts.
B.C.’s score for unsolved violent crime was -1.936 in 2017.
That represented an improvement from 2016, when it was -2.225, but it was still the lowest in the country.
B.C.’s actual weighted clearance rate for violent crime was 51.7 per cent.
Meanwhile, B.C.’s score for unsolved non-violent crime was -1.895; that represented a decline from 2016, when it was -1.725.
B.C.’s weighted clearance rate for non-violent crime was 20.4 per cent.
The province didn’t fare much better when it came to people’s faith in the justice system.
B.C. tied for the lowest score among provinces when it came to confidence in the system, scoring -1.2 alongside Manitoba and Quebec.
Meanwhile, British Columbians’ confidence in police was the second-lowest of any province, topping only Quebec.
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B.C. also received a failing grade when it came to the proportion of people who were satisfied with public safety.
There, the province scored -1.611, the worst of any province. Manitoba (-1.237) and Quebec (-0.862) scored second- and third-lowest, respectively.
B.C. also scored low when it came to the share of Indigenous people in total custodial admissions. The West Coast province was second-lowest with a score of -1.089, topping only Alberta, which had a score of -1.839.
This report doesn’t represent the first time that concerns have been raised about low clearance rates for B.C. crime.
Earlier this year, it was noted that Metro Vancouver had a clearance rate of 61 per cent for homicides between 2000 and 2015, which was lower than numerous other metropolitan areas.
And that came amid a falling violent crime rate.