Winnipeg is once again the murder capital of Canada.
This morning, Statistics Canada released new data which found Winnipeg had the highest homicide rate and violent crime rate in the country.
Winnipeg’s homicide rate of 5.1 per 100,000 people is the city’s highest since 1981 and the highest in 2011 among all major Canadian municipalities.
The next highest murder rates were reported in Halifax (4.4) and Edmonton (4.2).
Winnipeg also registered the highest score on the Violent Crime Severity Index, 173.8, an increase of 6 per cent from 2010.
Statistics Canada said that while the total number of violent crimes in Winnipeg decreased from 2010 to 2011, the index places a greater weight on more serious crime. The index rose in Winnipeg because of a three per cent increase in robberies and the almost doubling in the number of homicides, 39 compared to 22 in 2010. (There were actually 41 homicides in Winnipeg in 2011 but the two additional incidents were only discovered by police in June and were too late to be included in this year’s report).
Mayor Sam Katz said being the murder and violent crime capital of Canada is not a description any city wants. However, he said the overall numbers show crime has decreased in Winnipeg.
"If crime were going up in our city I'd then I'd be very, very concerned. When I see it's been dropping over the last few years I know we're headed in the right direction," he said.
Katz said many people feel safety has improved in recent years, in part due to the fact there are more police and cadets who patrol downtown. He said certain crimes have dropped five to 10 per cent, and "there's no point" comparing Winnipeg's crime rate with other cities since every place has their own issues to deal with.
"I have no problem going downtown, I have no problem going to the North End, regardless of the day of the week, regardless of what time it is," Katz said.
The province had four murders per 100,000 people in 2011, said the report called Police-reported Crime Statistics in Canada. In Winnipeg, city police report there were 41 homicides in 2011.
Canada's homicide rate rose seven per cent in 2011 to 1.7 homicides per 100,000 population, the StatsCan report said.
Police reported 598 homicides in 2011, 44 more than in 2010. Despite annual fluctuations, the homicide rate has generally been declining since peaking in the mid-1970s, the report said. The national increase in homicides in 2011 was driven by increases in Alberta and Quebec, StatsCan said.
Canadian police reported more than 424,400 incidents of violent crime in 2011, about 14,800 fewer than in 2010, Statistics Canada says. As in previous years, violent crimes accounted for about one in five offences reported by police, the report issued today said. Both the rate and severity of violent crime fell four per cent in 2011 in Canada, the report said. It was the fifth consecutive annual decline in the severity of violent crime. In Winnipeg, meanwhile, violent crime was up six per cent and the overall crime severity rate was down seven per cent.
The rate of robbery declined 3 percent in 2011, continuing a downward trend. Police reported over 29,700 robberies, 700 fewer than in 2010. Rates declined for attempted murder (-3%) and for most types of assault, including sexual assault (-3%).