Crime statistics: Violence in Halifax
IF the federal Conservatives’ tough-on-crime agenda is responsible for pushing Canada’s crime rate to a 40-year low in 2011, as Public Safety Minister Vic Toews is now claiming, is Ottawa equally to blame for the national rise in murders and child pornography cases last year?
No, because Mr. Toews’ politically motivated premise is flawed. The six per cent drop in the national crime rate and matching six per cent decline in the crime severity index are continuations of downward trends that go back nearly a decade. The crime rate in Canada actually peaked in 1991. Mr. Toews’ spinning aside, the good news is that since then, the rate has, for the most part, been dropping.
The most recent police-reported 2011 crime measurements, released last week by Statistics Canada, also showed welcome declines in all categories — crime and violent crime rates, crime severity and violent crime severity indexes — in Nova Scotia. Disquietingly, however, Nova Scotia still has the highest crime rate, crime severity index and violent crime severity index of provinces east of Manitoba.
Halifax seems to be the main culprit. Both the crime severity and violent crime severity indexes for Nova Scotia’s capital city are well above the province’s in those categories.
Nationally, Halifax ranked second, behind only Winnipeg, for highest homicide rate among census metropolitan areas. The 19 homicides in the city last year — from stabbings, shootings and beatings — were the most recorded since such data began being collected in 1981, Statistics Canada reported.
Encouragingly, Halifax police say that changes they’ve made in the wake of last year’s violence, which included 75 shooting incidents, have made a difference this year.
Those include police being more vocal about going after people involved in violence, targeting known weapons for seizure, high-visibility downtown patrols on weekend nights and a guns-and-gangs unit.
The numbers reported by Halifax police so far in 2012 — 30 per cent fewer homicides (seven) and attempted murders — do suggest their efforts are helping. But for many residents, an incident like the daytime shooting on Quinpool Road this past spring is one too many.