In 2019, crime rose sharply in Nunavut
Police-reported crime rose 20 per cent from 2018 to 2019
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.