Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 24/7/2012 (1889 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Homicide capital of Canada.
Violent crime capital of Canada.
These are the inglorious honours given to Winnipeg following the release of a new report by Statistics Canada.
A national survey of police-reported crime data for 2011 found Winnipeg and Manitoba had the highest homicide rates in the country, and Winnipeg had the most violent crime.
Winnipeg had a homicide rate of 5.1 per 100,000 residents — highest among major Canadian communities and Winnipeg's highest since the data were first collected in 1981.
Manitoba had a homicide rate of 4.2 per 100,000 residents.
The official homicide rate would have been higher, but it was based on the 39 known homicides at the close of the year. Two more homicides were discovered in June — victims of alleged serial killer Shawn Cameron Lamb — but those were recorded too late to be part of the 2011 analysis.
The violent crime capital title comes as a result of a weighted score for all violent crimes. While the total number of violent crimes decreased in Winnipeg in 2011, the Violent Crime Severity Index, which measures the seriousness of violent crime, found Winnipeg had the highest score in the country; and an increase of six per cent from last year — the only major Canadian city of similar size or larger to see the violent crime index increase.
University of Winnipeg criminologist Melannie Nimmo said the high rate of homicides and violence in the city is a result of social issues within specific neighbourhoods.
Homicides are concentrated in the downtown and North End, Nimmo said.
"It's no coincidence that the most violent areas of the city are the core and the North End," she said. "It's happening in impoverished, marginalized areas.
"The percentage of at-risk, marginalized aboriginal youth (in those areas) is exploding."
Nimmo said turning the situation around is not solely a job left to Winnipeg police, who react to crime. However, she said, police can, and have been, working closely with community groups and government and other non-government agencies to focus on the root of the social problems that lead to crime.
Whether Winnipeg can shed those notorious titles depends on the ability to focus on policies and initiatives that work, she said.
"It depends on how much we maintain best-practice, evidence-based programs," Nimmo said.
Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz said no city wants the titles of homicide and violent crime capital of Canada, but he added he found solace in the fact the total number of crimes in Winnipeg was decreasing.
"If crime were going up in our city, I'd then be very, very concerned," Katz said. "When I see it's been dropping over the last few years, I know we're headed in the right direction."
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.
Katz said "there's no point" comparing Winnipeg's crime rate with other cities, since every place has its own issues.
"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 Statistics Canada data reflect figures released by the Winnipeg Police Service Monday, which showed a decrease in almost all categories of crime.
Shannon Brennan, an analyst with Statistics Canada, said the severity index recognizes some violent crimes are more serious than others, adding while the total number of crimes is decreasing across the country, Winnipeg experienced an increase in the seriousness of violent crime based on a three per cent increase in the number of robberies and almost double the number of homicides.
Statistics Canada found the crime rate is declining across the country: Police reported more than 424,400 incidents of violent crime in 2011, about 14,800 fewer than in 2010. Violent crimes account for about one in five crimes reported to police.
However, unlike Winnipeg, the country's violent crime severity index declined four per cent.
While the overall crime rate fell across the country, the national homicide rate rose seven per cent. Police reported 598 homicides in 2011, 44 more than in 2010, for a rate of 1.7 homicides per 100,000 residents.
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.
— with files from Jen Skerritt
By the numbers
Winnipeg and Manitoba had the highest homicide rates in the country for 2011.
Manitoba had the highest homicide rate among provinces for the fifth year in a row, followed by Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Winnipeg had the highest homicide rate (5.1 per 100,00 population) among census metropolitan areas (CMA), and the highest rate since 1981, when CMA data was first collected.
The next highest homicide rates were Halifax (4.4) and Edmonton (4.2).