TORONTO, ONTARIO January 12, 2020 (LSN) Crime rates in Canada dropped precipitously from 1991 until 2014, falling more than 50 per cent during that period. Since then, however, crime rates have ticked upward in each of the past four years for which data is available.
A new study from the Angus Reid Institute, the latest in a biennial series gauging Canadians experiences with and opinions of the justice system, finds public perceptions in their communities following that same trend.
Indeed, half of Canadians (48%) now say that crime has increased in their community over the past five years, up from 42 per cent in 2018 and 30 per cent in 2014.
The proportion of Canadians holding this view is considerably higher in the western provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. In each region, six-in-ten residents or more say they are perceiving more crime now than five years ago.
Additionally, confidence in the RCMP and local police forces continues to decline. While at least half of Canadians still have confidence in each organization, the proportion saying this dropped in 2018 and again in this latest data.
The opinion that crime is increasing, rather than decreasing, is higher in every region of the country, but is most concentrated in western provinces, as seen in the graph below:
Saskatchewan and Manitoba rank highest regionally in terms of both the perception that crime is rising, and their reported CSI rating. Notably, Regina, Saskatoon and Winnipeg all rank in the top five in terms of cities with the highest crime rates in the nation. None of the top five cities (Lethbridge and Kelowna round out top five) are from provinces east of Manitoba.
Quebecers are most likely to say crime is decreasing in their communities, and that province is the only one that has seen a decrease in its CSI rating since 2014:
Canadians’ own experience with crime has inched upward over the past six years, with 15 per cent now saying that they have been a victim of a crime that involved the police. This figure represents a six-point increase since 2014:
Personal experience with criminal activity is again lowest in Quebec, and higher in the provinces west of Ontario:
Near the start of the last decade, most Canadians expressed a lack of confidence in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, their local police forces, and the courts system – including the Supreme Court of Canada. These findings came on the heels of a number of scandals and investigations, including allegations that RCMP leadership had covered up pension fraud, as well as inquiries into police mismanagement of the case of serial killer Robert Pickton and abuse of power in other B.C. cases.
By 2014, however, Angus Reid found confidence in the justice system to have improved significantly, to a level that remained fairly consistent in the Angus Reid Institute’s 2016 installment of this survey. Confidence declined slightly across each aspect of the justice system in 2018 and does so again in this latest data. While approximately half of Canadians still have confidence in the RCMP, their local municipal police forces and the Supreme Court, the level of confidence for each is down over the past four years.
Further, just over one-in-three Canadians say they have confidence in their own provincial court system:
Views of the different levels of law enforcement in the country are varied across different populations and regions. This finding comes as some jurisdictions in the country debate whether to introduce new provincial or municipal forces. In Surrey, British Columbia, a recent municipal budget outlined $129 million over five years to help create a municipal police force set to begin operations in 2021. In Alberta, Premier Jason Kenney recently announced that his government is considering creating its own provincial police force. As a national institution, the RCMP garners slightly less confidence than do their local detachments (where they exist):
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