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City tops violent crime severity index

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The bad news is Winnipeg is still number one on Statistics Canada’s violent crime severity index, at 163.9 for 2010, where the Canadian average is 88.9. The good news is that it’s down 13 per cent from 2009.

A crime severity index "tracks changes in the severity of police-reported crime by accounting for both the amount of crime reported by police in a given jurisdiction and the relative seriousness of these crimes," according to a Statistics Canada document about the index. "To do this, each type of offence is assigned a seriousness ‘weight’. The weights are derived from actual sentences handed down by courts in all provinces and territories."

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The violent crime severity index does the same thing, but for violent crime alone.

As for the total crime severity index, Winnipeg comes in at third place, behind Saskatoon and Regina, with an index of 122.3, down by 10 per cent from 2009.

Just as Winnipeg is first among cities on the violent crime severity index, Manitoba is first among provinces, at 162.3 – but also down eight per cent.

And Manitoba is second on the total crime severity index behind Saskatchewan, down by six per cent.

Across Canada, the overall police-reported crime rate, which measures the overall volume of crime, continued to decline, by five per cent from 2009. The nation-wide crime severity index fell six per cent.

The national crime rate has been falling steadily for the past 20 years and is now at its lowest level since 1973, according to Statistics Canada.

Canadian police services reported nearly 2.1 million Criminal Code incidents (excluding traffic) last year, about 77,000 fewer than in 2009.

All kinds of crimes declined: theft under $5,000, motor vehicle thefts and break-ins, homicide, attempted murder, serious assaults and robbery.

But some crimes increased, including sexual assault, use/discharge of a firearm, criminal harassment, child pornography and drug offences.

Police reported more than 22,000 sexual assaults in 2010, an increase of 5% since 2009 and the first increase in sexual assault since 2005.

The national decline in the homicide rate was driven primarily by a large decrease in British Columbia, where the rate (1.83) was at an all-time low, Statistics Canada said. However, the B.C. rate was still slightly higher than the national average.

Crime got worse in three cities: St. John’s, Greater Sudbury, and Peterborough.

Guelph reported the lowest crime severity index for the fourth year in a row, followed by Québec City, Toronto and Ottawa.

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