How do we Measure Up?

How much crime is there in Canada? Officials often try to defend the Canadian justice system by claiming that our crime rates are much lower than in the United States and by claiming that the public perceives crime rates to be higher than they actually are.

United States crime rates in total are slightly higher than Canadian crime rates. In 2000 US crime rates stood at 81 per1000 people as compared to 77 per 1000 people in Canada. However, it is interesting to note that during the same year violent crime victimized a higher percentage of the Canadian population (13.4%) than the US population (11.1%). Likewise, property crimes also victimized a higher percentage of the Canadian population (10.4%) than the US (10%)

Higher crime rates in the United States are a result of a higher number of victimless crimes, most being drug related. In fact in the United States there were 560 drug offences per 1000 people in 2000 as compared to 285 per 1000 people in Canada.

Also, crime rates are based on convictions, not reported crime. Adult prosecutions as a percentage of crimes reported stands at nearly 60% in the US. The same statistic in Canada is a mere 15%. Why do so few reported crimes result in prosecutions in Canada? The answer may lie in funding.

Per capita, the US spends 18.5% more on policing than Canada does. The US also spends three times per capita what Canada spends on its judicial system and 2.6 times per capita what Canada spends on its correctional system. (Source: Statistics Canada)