The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Fewer crimes being committed, and they are less severe, say number crunchers

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CANADA'S NATIONAL CRIME RATE

OTTAWA - Statistics Canada says the number of crimes committed was lower last year, but so was the severity of those criminal acts.

The agency says the police-reported Crime Severity Index fell by nine per cent in 2013, the tenth consecutive annual decline.

The index, which measures the volume and severity of crime based on average prison sentences handed down for convictions, was 36 per cent lower in 2013 than a decade earlier.

StatsCan says the traditional crime rate also declined last year compared with 2012 by eight per cent.

The national crime rate has been on a downward slide since the early 1990s, reaching its lowest level last year since 1969.

Canadian police services reported just over 1.8 million Criminal Code offences were committed in 2013, down approximately 132,000 from the previous year.

Most offences were down, but there were increases in the number of some offences reported, including extortion, identity theft, aggravated sexual assault, child pornography and sexual violations against children.

Most provinces and territories recorded a decrease in the severity of crimes committed, except in the Yukon and Newfoundland and Labrador, where they saw slight increases.

Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Quebec and Manitoba recorded the largest declines among the provinces and territories.

On a municipal scale, none of Canada's census metropolitan areas recorded increases in crime severity.

And Victoria saw the biggest decline compared with 2012, down by 17 per cent.

The violent CSI fell 10 in 2013 compared with the previous year, says StatsCan, marking the seventh consecutive decrease.

Police services reported approximately 384,000 violent incidents last year, down about 32,000 from 2012, mainly resulting from a drop in robberies.

Homicides were also down. Police reported 505 of them in 2013, down 38 from 2012.

The homicide rate was also at its lowest level since 1966, at 1.44 victims per 100,000 population.

CANADA'S CRIME SEVERITY INDEX
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