Thursday, December 6, 2012

Rise in homicides is of ‘no real consequence,’ criminologist says

Don’t panic.

True, the number of homicides in Canada increased this year over last. True, fatal stabbings increased sharply. True, the figures arrive amid a divisive national policy debate over Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s tough-on-crime agenda.

But, according to the experts, what is the real conclusion to be drawn from the latest Statistics Canada figures on homicides?

Essentially: Take a deep breath. “You can’t infer anything from today’s numbers,” said Simon Fraser University criminologist Neil Boyd. “An increase of 7 per cent is of no real consequence.”

To glean broad trends from one year’s stats is equivalent to holding up a cold winter’s day as proof that climate change is a fraud, criminologists say. When experts look for criminal patterns in Statscan numbers, they work with periods of no less than 10 years.

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