24 July 2014

Crime Severity Indices, St. John’s #nlpoli

This week, Statistics Canada released their latest compilation of crime statistics based on reports by police.

The figures in the release were year to year but if you hunt around a bit,  you can find the original tables of data.  from there, you can pluck out specific information.  In this post, we’ve pulled out the data for St. John’s from 2003 to 2013.

Crime YYT

The orange line shows the index for the severity of non-violent crime.  it’s the highest of the three but the trend is unmistakably downward over the past decade.

The blue line is the overall crime severity index.  Again, the trend is definitely downward over the past decade.  That’s particularly true for the period after 2010  (the data at 8 on the horizontal axis).

Now look at the red.

It’s violent crime:  assault,  murder,  domestic violence.  All the nasty stuff.

Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Chief Bill Janes spoke to reporters on Wednesday about the numbers.  he downplayed the change in the violent crime severity numbers.  The reported rate went up year over year because there were three murders in St. John’s last year and none the year before.  He said the numbers are weighted and that makes it look worse than it is.

Errr.

No.

Weighted means that the people at Statistics Canada take into account that kind of situation so that you don;t get a skewed perspective.  The VCSI went up from 2012 to 2013 but not by a dramatic amount.  That’s because of the weighting.

To get a better sense of what is going on,  you need to look at the longer term trending.  That’s where you see that Janes is right when he says that overall,  the numbers are good.  The crime severity index overall and the one for non-violent crime is headed downward.

For violent crime though, the trend is not that good.  It’s been on the way up, overall for the past 10 years.  And if you look at the period from 2010 (8)  through to 2013 (11)  then you can see there has still been a modest trend upward.

-srbp-

1 comment:

Jerry Bannister said...

The other part of the story is how the crimes severity indices for NL compare to other provinces and to the national average.

Crimes rates have been declining in jurisdictions all across North America; the question is the relative rate of decline and, as you point out, the type of criminal offences.

The stories on CBC and VOCM are framed solely by the RNC's interpretation, and do not take into account issues such as how St. John's is doing relative to other jurisdictions.

The trend that stuck out to me when I read the Statscan report is where St. John's sits in the national ranking of Canadian cities. Only The Telegram's story, written by Andrew Robinson, picked up on this point.