Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Stock and I make census of crime reporting

Stockwell Day says we can't rely on statistics showing a declining crime rate because those figures only measure reported crime. And Stock apparently has unreported figures that show unreported crime is rising (or maybe not):

Treasury Board President Stockwell Day says statistics showing crime in Canada is declining may not be accurate.

Day says the crime rate per 1,000 people has dropped, but adds that more people are not reporting crimes.

He says surveys suggest many people don't bother calling the police on some crimes.
The numbers are alarming, he says, although he did not elaborate.

Day says this is why the government plans to hike spending for new prisons.
What Stock failed to mention is that the reason we can't necessarily take those crime statistics at face value is because crime reporting is voluntary, which leads to an array of challenges that can skew the numbers. With the reporting pool self-selecting, some groups may be more likely to report criminal events: the middle-class, for example, or the the family of a murder victim. And those who live in high-crime neighbourhoods, or who are the victim of a minor crime such as j-walking, might not bother to report.

That's why tomorrow I'm told Stock will announce the Conservative Party's new "Get Tough on Unreported Crime" initiative, which will make crime reporting mandatory and threaten stiff fines and/or jail terms for failure to report crime.*

That's why they're really building all those prisons.

*No, not really.

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The Mound of Sound said...

I guess we'll need all those new prisons for all the offenders we convict for unreported crimes.

Don't worry that makes perfect sense to anyone who believes in biblical inerrancy.

The_Iceman said...

The problem is that 90% of sexual assaults in Canada go unreported. I think it is okay for Stockwell Day to be concerned about this.

Jeff said...

Actually Statistics Canada said 88 per cent, but they also said:

"the No. 1 reason given by individuals for not calling the police about a crime is that they believe it was not serious enough. Only two per cent said they feared retribution, and one per cent said they felt the police may be biased."

If you do, however, believe that unreported crime is a problem, then you should probably be doing something to encourage people to actually come forward and report crime. That is not happening, however.

Stock was using unreported crime as a justification for spending billions on new prisons despite the falling (reported) crime rate. Which isn't a compelling justification, because you can't put unreported criminals in jail.

Anonymous said...

This is what I said on twitter! I think that it would have been a more precise answer! What do you think Mr.Jedras?

Barcs said...

"If you do, however, believe that unreported crime is a problem, then you should probably be doing something to encourage people to actually come forward and report crime. That is not happening, however."

You mean like advocating for the people that perpetrate the crimes to be taken off the street... placing them where they can't continue to harass law abiding citizens? Getting rid of the retribution factor no matter how small?

Barcs said...

one might also see a problem (as Proud Canadian did) with early release due to the poor conditions of overcrowding....

Is that a situation where the criminal has been rehabilitated and is unlikely to re-offend?

Or is it just contributing to the problem of criminals on the street?.... even the ones we did catch

french wedding cat said...

The statistics on unreported crime are not unreported. They are part of the General Social Survey, which asks people about crime victimization (and whether they reported crimes).

See here for the relevant data: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/85-002-x2005007-eng.pdf

The rate of reporting IS low, and declining. Moreover, it isn't just property crimes.

Party of One said...

Jeez, I had to slam on the brakes to avoid a j-walker! I guess now I'm a "victim of crime"!