Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Cost of Violent Crimes Topped $12 Billion in One Year: Justice Canada Study

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Cost of Violent Crimes Topped $12 Billion in One Year: Justice Canada Study

Article excerpt

Violent crimes cost $12 billion in one year

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OTTAWA - Violent crimes in Canada come with a huge financial cost, to victims and to the justice system, says a new Justice Canada report.

Five types of violent crimes that occurred in 2009 had an economic impact of $12.7 billion, says the detailed accounting of dozens of factors, from medical care and lost wages to court and social welfare costs.

The study is the department's fourth since 2011 to examine the grim price tags associated with crime in Canada, all of them focused on the burden placed on victims.

The latest research, completed in December, looked at every case of assault, criminal harassment, homicide, robbery, and sexual assault and other sexual offences, that occurred in 2009.

Excluded were cases in which there was a spousal relationship, which was the special subject of a previous study. The project drew on police and court databanks as well as surveys from Statistics Canada.

By far the largest single cost -- $4.8 billion of the total -- was attributed to sexual assault and other sexual offences, crimes in which more than 90 per cent of victims were women.

Victims bore most of the costs for all five types of crime, $10.6 billion, with criminal justice system and third-party costs far behind.

"The victims bear the greatest burden of the impacts, much of it intangible, and family, friends and employers can also be burdened," the authors conclude.

"The impacts are eventually felt by all Canadians in the form of public spending on the justice system and social services."

The Canadian Press obtained a copy of the 168-page report through the Access to Information Act.

The research emerges from the Conservative government's strong focus on victims as it continues to implement changes to the justice system, including mandatory minimum sentences and tougher rules on pardons.

Previous Justice Canada studies, using the same methodology, examined the economic cost of all crimes that occurred in 2008 ($99.6 billion); of gun crimes in the same year ($3.1 billion); and of spousal violence that occurred in 2009 ($7.4 billion).

This area of research, pioneered in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, is touted as helping to show the potential economic effects of reducing crime, and to provide governments information to assign resources more effectively. …

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