Canada’s crime rate drops for 3rd straight year: StatsCan

Here’s good news for Canada:  Canada’s crime rate drops for 3rd straight year: StatsCan.

Canada’s national crime rate declined for the third straight year in 2007, according to Statistics Canada, which attributed the drop largely to a decrease in counterfeiting and property offences such as break-ins and vehicle thefts.

StatsCan data released Thursday shows a seven per cent drop in the national crime rate, which the agency said also stems from fewer serious violent offences like homicides, attempted murders, sexual assaults and robberies.

The overall crime rate has been on a general rate of decline since peaking in 1991, according to StatsCan data. In 2007, police reported 594 homicides, down slightly from 606 in 2006, following a long-term downward trend that began in the mid-1970s.

Criminologists are well aware of the difference between the perception of crime rates and the actual crime rates.  When sensational news stories like the Robert Pickton trial show up, people remember the sensational events and estimate crime rates out of proportion to their actual occurance (psychologists also have a lot to say about this effect).  So it’s important that stories like this get their fair day in the sun to bring some balance to the problem:  terrible crimes do occur, but it is the truth that they are occuring less often than they used to.  This occurs all over the place:  despite the tenacious perception of New York as a terribly dangerous place to be, it is actually one of the safest cities in the United States.

Actually, this ties in with another misperception that surprised me when I learned the truth:  globally, war has undergone a shocking decline in the last decade or so.  The link is to the Human Security Report 2005, and I suggest you click around and take a look to convince yourself because there’s too much for me to summarize here.  It really opened my eyes to the difference between how I thought the world was and how it really is.  Good reading is also to be had from the related Human Security Brief, which details the drop in global terrorism around the world.

All in all, the world is not a paradise, but the common perception of doom and gloom may not be nearly as justified as you might think.

Update: Via the Montreal city weblog, I hear that people in Montréal are making my point for me.

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