In 2019, crime rose sharply in Nunavut

Police-reported crime rose 20 per cent from 2018 to 2019

In 2019, police-reported crime rose by 20 per cent in Nunavut and the crime severity index rose by 11 per cent, Statistics Canada reported in its most recent national crime statistics. (File photo)

By Jim Bell

The severity and prevalence of crime in Nunavut rose sharply from 2018 to 2019, Statistics Canada says in its release of national crime numbers for 2019.

Using a special measure called the “crime severity index,” StatCan, in a report released at the end of last month, said the severity of crime in Nunavut jumped by 11 per cent in 2019.

The crime severity index measures the overall seriousness of crime by taking into account the total number of crimes and then giving extra weight to more serious crimes to produce a severity score.

For Nunavut, StatCan reported a nine per cent increase in the severity score for violent crime and a 13 per cent increase in the severity score for property crime.

But Nunavut’s not alone. In the other two northern territories, increases in crime severity were even worse. The Northwest Territories experienced a 19 per cent increase in its total crime severity index and Yukon experienced a 26 per cent increase.

Police-reported crimes up 20 per cent

According to StatCan’s other measuring stick for crime, the per capita rate of police-reported crimes, that is, crimes the police report to StatCan, Nunavut showed a 20 per cent increase in 2019.

That included a 22 per cent leap in violent crime.

But that’s not as bad as either the Northwest Territories or Yukon. The N.W.T. saw a 22 per cent increase in its overall per capita crime rate, and a 28 per cent increase in violent crime. In Yukon, the overall crime rate rose 21 per cent and violent crime rose by 31 per cent.

At the same time, the N.W.T. possesses the highest overall per capita crime rate in Canada, with Nunavut in second place and Yukon third.

But one area where Nunavut still stands out is in the severity of violent crime: with a score of 612.8, it’s the highest in Canada.

That seems to be supported by the raw numbers: a 32 per cent increase from 2018 to 2019 in major assaults and a 21 per cent increase in robberies.

The police recorded seven homicides in Nunavut in 2019, down from the eight homicides recorded in 2018. In addition, Nunavut saw six attempted murders in 2019.

In contrast, only one homicide occurred in Yukon and two in the N.W.T.

Common assaults occurred frequently in Nunavut: 2,302 incidents in 2019, for which 739 people were charged.

In addition, there were 528 assaults with a weapon or assaults causing bodily harm, and 74 aggravated assaults.

Sexual offences on the rise

Also in 2019, the police reported 95 sexual violations of children in several classes of offence, for which 47 individuals were charged. That’s up by about six per cent from the previous year.

And common sexual assaults also rose in Nunavut. The police reported 200 “level one” sexual assaults in 2019, up from 167 in 2018 and 149 in 2017. For these, 89 individuals were charged.

At the same time, the percentage of unfounded incidents dropped to 14.89 per cent from 20.8 per cent in 2018.

As for “level two” sexual assaults—sexual assault with a weapon or sexual assault causing bodily harm—none were recorded in 2019. And the police reported two “level three” aggravated sexual assaults.

However, there’s one big piece of good news: cannabis-related offences dropped by a whopping 83 per cent in 2019—likely because of the new federal law that legalizes the possession and sale of the substance.

That means only 16 “incidents” occurred, and only five people were charged in relation to the new Cannabis Act.

But the police in Nunavut did report more cocaine, methamphetamine and ecstasy offences in 2019.

For all of Canada, crime severity rose by five per cent and police-reported crime rose by seven per cent.

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(8) Comments:

  1. Posted by Further Breakdown on

    I’d really like to see this information broken down by community.

    • Posted by Paul Murphy on

      How will identifying the community help in understanding the problem, other than stigmatizing the community?

      • Posted by General Mills on

        Maybe some communities need a little stigmatizing. Inuit culture used shaming regularly to contain anti-social behaviour.

      • Posted by Shattered Illusions on

        Paul, I am surprised a man your nimble mindedness and towering intellect can’t see the value in the kind of comparative analysis mentioned here. Are the benefits not so obvious? I’m willing to give you a mulligan on this, if you are willing to take it…

      • Posted by Maul Purphy on

        There are many ways that more information can help.
        Is crime more prevalent in Iqaluit, the regional hubs, the smaller and more isolated communities? Is it more prevalent in communities with no restriction on alcohol than it is in “dry” communities? Do the communities with higher rates of intimate partner violence have domestic violence shelters? Is crime higher in communities with higher levels of unemployment? In communities with higher rates of school drop-outs? Without detailed information, you can’t make any sort of analysis.

  2. Posted by B & W on

    Interesting statistic , since the government decided to make the beer & wine store permanent as there was no evidence of increased crimes.
    Therefore all of these new crimes must have occurred outside of Iqaluit.
    That or they chose to bury the earlier information so they could continue to profit off the suffering of others.

  3. Posted by George on

    It may be that community-based information would be more useful with data for a larger number of years than just a comparison from one year to the next. There may be a lot of variation from year to year in every community, so a two-year comparison for each community may not tell you much about what’s going on; data for a number of years may be more useful . But I am not familiar with criminal data and how to interpret it. On a related note it would be nice to see some enforcement action when people are hot boxing their cars, i.e. smoking cannabis while driving; there is a lot of that going; I won’t say that it leads to criminal activity activity because I do not have data on that but I would think it’s a problem for people’s brains, psychiatric health , and their ability to drive safely.

  4. Posted by Jen on

    Our mayor in Iqaluit says it’s positive with the beer and wine store, I’m not too sure if that is accurate or not, he seems to be saying one thing while the other is happening.
    Smoke and mirrors.

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