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Western Canadians perceive increase in criminal activity: poll

Fewer than a third of residents of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have reported crimes to the police.


More than two-in-five residents of four Canadian provinces believe that unlawful activity is on the rise in their communities, even if significantly fewer have actually been victims of crime, a new Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of representative provincial samples, 54 per cent of Manitobans say the level of criminal activity has increased in their community over the past three years. Almost half of Albertans (48 per cent) also feel that criminal activity in their communities has risen in the past three years. The numbers are slightly lower in British Columbia (42 per cent) and Saskatchewan (41 per cent). The proportion of residents of the four western provinces who feel crime has decreased is in single digits (7 per cent in Manitoba, 6 per cent in Alberta and British Columbia, and 5 per cent in Saskatchewan). When respondents are asked if they have been victims of a crime that was reported to the police (such as an assault or a car break-in) in their community, only 20 per cent of British Columbians answered affirmatively. The proportion is higher in Alberta (24 per cent), Saskatchewan (27 per cent) and Manitoba (31 per cent). “There is a clear divide between perceptions of crime and the reality that communities across Western Canada are reporting,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “Respondents are significantly more likely to believe that unlawful activity has increased than to have personally experienced crime.” In British Columbia, three-in-ten residents of Northern BC (31 per cent) and one-in-five residents of Metro Vancouver (21 per cent) say that they have been victims of a crime that was reported to the police over the past three years. In Alberta, residents of Edmonton are more likely to have experienced crime (26 per cent) than those in Calgary (22 per cent) or in the rest of the province (23 per cent). A similar situation is observed in Saskatchewan, where more residents of Saskatoon (28 per cent) say they have been victims of crime than those who live in Regina (24 per cent) or in the rest of the province (18 per cent).

In Manitoba, the proportion criminal activity reported to the police stands at 29 per cent in Winnipeg and at 33 per cent in the remaining areas of the province. The groups that are more likely to believe that criminal activity is on the rise in their communities are British Columbians aged 55 and over (45 per cent), Albertans aged 55 and over (56 per cent), women in Saskatchewan (45 per cent) and Manitobans aged 35-to-54 (58 per cent).

About Research Co.

Simply put, we are curious about what people think and the decisions they will make. Some call it public opinion, others call it polling or public affairs. We never compromise facts for profit. Our agenda is the truth. We have a global network of partners in the qualitative, data collection and data visualization specialities.

Methodology: Results are based on an online study conducted from November 14 to November 16, among 800 adults in British Columbia, 600 adults In Alberta, 600 adults in Saskatchewan and 600 adults in Manitoba. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in each province. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.5 percentage points for British Columbia and+/- 4.0 percentage points for Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, nineteen times out of twenty.