Nationally, the police-reported crime rate continued the downward trend that began in the early 1990s. In 2013, the police-reported crime rate reached its lowest point since 1969
In Waterloo Region, the total criminal code violations (excluding traffic) were down by -6% in 2013 from 2012. Waterloo Regional Police Service experienced declines in overall Violent Crime (-9 %,) and in Property Crime (-6%). Other Criminal Code Offences remained relatively stable with a 0.5% increase. Over the last ten years in Waterloo Region, the overall crime rate is at its lowest since peaking in 2009, but has remained above the provincial rate.
Across Canada, the homicide rate was the lowest since 1966, while the attempted murder rate was the lowest recorded since 1971
There were a relatively high number of homicides in Waterloo Region in 2013. There were 9 violations causing death in 2013 (8 of which are homicides) compared to 4 in 2012. Attempted murders however, were down to 2 in 2013 from 8 in 2012. According to our homicide investigators, 2013 was an anomaly. The homicides were all independent of each other, and were not gang-related in any way, or tied to organized crime.
Nationally, violent crime continues to decrease in volume and severity.
Violent offences, or Crimes Against the Person, declined by -9% in Waterloo Region in 2013. All main categories of violent offences have declined, with the exception of violations causing death, forcible confinement, and assault level 3 or aggravated assault. This is the third year in a row, since peaking in 2010, that the violent crime rate in Waterloo Region has experienced a decline, and remains slightly lower than the provincial rate. Although assault level 3 increased, both level 1 and 2 assaults declined significantly with much fewer numbers of incidents in 2013. According to our investigators, these statistics reflect the stricter penalties within schools to combat fighting. Fighting in both schools and bars is less frequent than it used to be.Like the national trend, police-reported robberies also decreased in Waterloo Region, by -21% in 2013. In 2012 WRPS experienced a rash of person-on-person robberies which caused a substantial increase in our total robberies in 2012. A targeted project aimed at these offences at the end of 2012 was successful at reducing the number of these robberies.
Decrease in severity and volume of non-violent crime across Canada.
Crimes Against Property and Other Criminal Code Violations, or non-violent offences, were also down in Waterloo Region last year as they have been since peaking in 2010. Several minor property crimes recorded decreases in Waterloo Region including motor vehicle theft, mischief, shoplifting, and theft of $5000 or under. Although there are many factors involved in these decreases, over the last few years WRPS has moved towards a Neighbourhood Policing model of deployment with new patrol zones, more front-line officers, and more available proactive time. This along with improved response times and visibility may be influencing this reduction in property crimes.
Police-reported fraud and identity theft numbers indicate declines in Waterloo Region. Our fraud investigators believe the change in statistics may be connected to different classifications such as internet fraud and uttering forged documents. This is apparent as counterfeiting violations rose significantly from the previous year. And in the case of identity theft, according to our local investigators and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, identity theft is on the rise but a large proportion goes unreported.
The reduction in other prostitution violations in Waterloo Region is an example of a type of offence that is driven by enforcement. WRPS has transferred priorities and targeted enforcement projects have been reduced especially with the Canadian government’s push to legalize prostitution. The sex trade has also changed and moved from the streets to hotels and individual residences.
With more of a focus on education related to “sexting” and child exploitation, WRPS has seen an increase in child pornography offences and luring a child via a computer. WRPS continues to participate in the Provincial Strategy Grants that provide a full time Internet Child Exploitation investigator. And WRPS has committed two other investigators from our Major Case branch to work on child pornography. These investigators indicate that technology and increased accessibility on handheld devices are contributing to these increases. There has been increased reporting through education and awareness. And our investigators are also using the technology to better track and identify perpetrators.
Offensive weapon violations increased in Waterloo Region in 2013, specifically possession of weapons, possession contrary to order, and weapons trafficking. These are serious offences that indicate the changing severity of crime in our Region which WRPS will continue to monitor.•
Nationally, drug offences decreased in 2013, but remain higher than a decade earlier.
The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) offences overall declined slightly by -2% in Waterloo Region last year. Although the violations related to cannabis have decreased, our investigators believe that it is just as prevalent as ever. Due to the lenient court views and penalties, the focus has moved to the harder drugs like methamphetamines (crystal meth), heroin and cocaine. Our investigators indicate that these crime statistics are reflective of the increase in heroin and meth and the related problems that are seen and heard on the streets in our Region. The increase in these charges would likely be connected to specific trafficking projects initiated by our Service and street level initiates aimed at addressing these types of drugs.
Across Canada, fewer youth were accused of crime in 2013.
The number of other federal statute violations, specifically Youth Criminal Justice Act offences, were also down by -12% in Waterloo Region. Breaches under section 137 of the YCJA are an example of how the Most Serious Violation methodology underrepresents some offences. YCJA breach charges would often be “trumped” by a young person facing charges from the criminal code or CDSA offence (a more serious violation). Diversion also plays a significant role in the total number of YCJA offences.Traffic Violations are a combination of criminal code and provincial statute violations, and are often excluded from Statistics Canada’s calculation of Total Criminal Code Violations.
Traffic violations in Waterloo Region in 2013 recorded an overall decrease of -6% from the previous year.
The provincial dangerous driving without due attention was one of the few with an increase of 18% in 2013.The provincial failure to stop or remain is one violation that drove the overall decrease in Traffic Violations with its significant decrease by -31%. Impaired driving rate decreased for the second consecutive year in 2013.