Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Readers, start your spin-cycles

The big story in the Globe this morning is on new crime statistics, reporting the national crime rate is at an all time low.

National crime rate at 25-year low: Statscan
Canadian Press

July 18, 2007 at 9:45 AM EDT


OTTAWA — A new study says the national crime rate hit its lowest point in more than 25 years in 2006, driven by a decline in non-violent crime.


Statistics Canada says the crime rate dropped by three per cent last year, mainly due to declines in break-ins, thefts under $5,000 and counterfeiting.


The national crime rate has decreased by about 30 per cent since peaking in 1991.

(more)

Rather than providing my analysis, I thought for fun I’d turn the issue over to my readers and allow you to flex your spin skills and pull things out, in context or not, to use the data to pump-up your party and trash your opponents.

  • Does the decline mean the Conservative tough on crime legislation, most of which isn’t yet law, is unnecessary blustering? Or are criminals so scared of the proposed legislation they’ve stopped committing crimes even before its law?
  • Does the increase in assaults with a weapon mean the gun registry is a boondoggle, or did the fact the Conservatives have neutered the registry without canceling it rendering it useless contribute to the increase?
  • Does the decrease in the national homicide rate mean Harper is hard on crime and the Liberals soft, or does the increase in many serious violent crimes like attempted murder and aggravated assault mean the Liberals were tougher on crime and Harper is soft?
  • Does the rise in crime by youth mean diversion programs and addressing root causes rather than “getting tough” was the right way to go, or does it mean Vic Toews was right, throw the kiddies in prison?
  • Does the large drop in crime in PEI mean everyone in the province moved West and there's no one left?
  • Or does the fact the data is only until the end of 2006, after less than a year of CPC government and before most, if not all, of the new Conservative crime legislation could be passed and implemented, render any political comparisons and partisan shots based on the data silly and useless?

Let the spinning begin!

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5 comments:

Gauntlet said...

Notice that there is an increase in attempted murder, but a decrease in homicide. Why is that? Stephane Dion is bulletproof, and will stand in front of you when you're being shot. Seriously. I've seen him do it.

Olaf said...

Jeff,

I'd like to vote for this conclusion, if I may.

the fact (that) the data is only until the end of 2006, after less than a year of CPC government and before most, if not all, of the new Conservative crime legislation could be passed and implemented, render any political comparisons and partisan shots based on the data silly and useless?

Mike said...

Don't forget that 2003 was the lowest rate in 30 years so this downward trend has more to do with Stats Can's announcement yesterday (baby boomers who made up the bulk of the rise in crime rate in the 70s, are not too old to be criminals anymore) than nay legislation....

Gayle said...

Increasing sentences increases our costs, and therefore our taxes, but does not decrease crime.

I just read an interesting article comparing juvenile crime rates of California (where they restrict the use of custody to serious violent offences) and Texas (where they throw them all in jail) and it shows both jurisdictions had the same reduction in crime over the same time period - even though Texas had to spend a lot more than California in order to administer its justice system.

I think our nice, healthy economy can take most of the credit for the decrease in crime.

That said, I also think the YCJA can take credit for the drop in youth crime (though this year saw the first increase since the YCJA came into effect), since it mandates the police focus on actual serious crimes, and stop paying so much attention to minor school yard scuffles, or kids who punch in the wall because they have a temper tantrum.

I also believe the rates are determined by reported crime and charges, rather than convictions, so the actual rate may be lower than reported.

Mike - Stats Can considered your theory and did a study on it, however I believe they discounted it. You can find the study on their site.

If I were spinning, I would point out that when the liberals took over in 1993, our crime rate was at an all time high, and now, with their policies still in place (since none of the conservative crime bills have taken effect), we are at an all time low. I do not think that is the point, however. I oppose Harper's plan because it will cost somewhere in the range of 250 billion dollars, and is highly unlikely to produce a lower crime rate. I would rather he spend that money on housing and feeding the poor, but maybe that is just me...

A BCer in Toronto said...

He's just that kinda guy Jason. And he doesn't brag about it either, maybe that's the problem.

Olaf, I'd tend to favour that conclusion as well, although I'm sure that won't stop anyone. Facts, smachts...

You're right Mike, I heard that mentioned in some of the other coverage of the stats. Maybe we should lock everyone until they're 65 or something...

Gayle, I think you're right a healthy economy does mean lower crime. It goes back to the root causes argument, someone with a home and a job is less inclined to turn to crime. If nothing else, the stats should take some of the wind out of the sails of Harper's tougher on crime push.