Think tank questions Canadian crime data

Statscan’s falling crime rate claim is wrong: report

The Macdonald-Laurier Institute, an Ottawa-based think tank, has come out swinging against Statistics Canada’s evidence of falling crime rates in a new report that supports the Harper government’s goal of being tough on crime and expanding prisons. Scott Newark, a former Alberta prosecutor and a co-author of the report, concludes that “on the central question of the state’s duty to protect citizens from crime and public disorder, Canadians are not as well served as they should be” by Statscan’s data on crime. Chief among the Institute’s criticisms is that Statscan’s Juristat report on crime statistics over-emphasizes decreases in crime rates, revises crime categories from year to year and does not factor in unreported crimes. Statscan has responded to Newark’s criticisms, saying that while crime categories do change, data is available to anyone who wanted to compare crime statistics before and after categories were changed. Anthony Doob, a criminologist at the University of Toronto, says that Newark has “cherry-picked” his data, and that “there are no perfect measures of crime.” The Macdonald-Laurier Institute’s work has generally been supportive of the Harper government’s policies, and Scott Newark has previously worked with Treasury Board President Stockwell Day.

The Globe and Mail

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