Crime stats don’t add up

Northerners are three times more likely to be raped, robbed or beaten up, according to a national study released Monday.

Northerners are three times more likely to be raped, robbed or beaten up, according to a national study released Monday.

But despite those stacked odds, Yukon, NWT and Nunavut residents report feeling safer than their southern counterparts.

In the North, 54 per cent of people are satisfied with their safety compared to 44 per cent of those who live in the south.

But data from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics for 2004/2005 tells a different story.

Its Victimization and Offending in Canada’s Territories report deals with two sets of numbers — one tallies hard crime reports from the RCMP, the other victim-reported crimes.

Nearly 40 per cent of the 1,300 northern residents surveyed reported being victimized at least once in the past year.

That’s about 10 per cent higher than in southern Canada, where reported victimization stood at 28 per cent.

Meanwhile, police-reported crime in the territories was four times higher than in the rest of Canada in 2005.

And 70 per cent of violent crime in the territories is not reported to police, said the report.

“I hope people don’t take these stats to mean that it’s not safe here, because it’s a great place to live,” said Crime Prevention Yukon project manager Catherine Morginn.

“When you’re dealing with small populations and you’re looking at statistics, you have to be really careful about taking anything as fact.”

Examine the survey closely and you find the volume of crime in the territories is low, accounting for just 1.4 per cent of the national total, according to the police-reported data.

As a percentage, the number is exaggerated by the North’s small population, which make the territories seem like dangerous places.

But it’s not time to move south just yet. Statistics can be misleading.

“It doesn’t say here who the crime is happening to; it doesn’t say the crime was mostly committed in impoverished areas or certain communities — it just says Yukon, NWT,” Morginn said.

Maybe certain people don’t feel safe, but were those people accounted for in the survey?

“What about people who are less likely to get to the phone, or less likely to have a phone, do they feel safe?”

While RCMP crime stats are considered accurate, victim figures are more difficult to verify, explained Dan Cable, Yukon Justice communications co-ordinator.

In southern data, victimization numbers are deemed to be 97 per cent representative of the population.

That high number can be attributed to the facts that most people can be reached by phone and most understand either French or English.

But northern numbers are only considered 60 per cent representative.

It’s easier for surveyors to reach people in Whitehorse and Yellowknife than in rural communities.

Though the data isn’t precise, northern crime rates are higher.

That’s pegged to a few common high-risk social, economic and demographic factors in the territories, according to the report.

Northern residents tend to be younger.

“If you’re younger, you are statistically far more likely to commit crime or be a victim of crime,” said Cable.

Northern residents are more likely to come from one-parent and common-law families.

The unemployment rate is higher (although that is not true in Whitehorse).

And there are more aboriginal people in the North.

“Because of their higher levels of poverty and substance abuse, and the fact that they’re younger, aboriginal people are more likely to be involved in the justice system in one way or another — either as a victim or as an offender,” said Cable.

Also, Yukon crime rates vary from the other territories.

Although Yukon’s crime rate was 50 per cent higher than the highest province, Saskatchewan, it was still less than half the rate in the other two territories.

That can be tied to its different demographics in two major risk areas, said Cable.

In Nunavut and the NWT, most of the population is aboriginal and young. In the Yukon, most people are non-aboriginal and older.

Nunavut’s population is nearly 85 per cent aboriginal, NWT is half and the Yukon’s is about a quarter.

And while the national average age is 39, Nunavut’s is 22, the NWT’s is 29 and Yukon’s is nearly 37.

The 23-page report also noted other interesting facts.

Northern residents are 10 per cent less likely to lock their car doors or stay home at night to avoid exposure to crime.

“Even though we’re more likely to be hit by violent crime, we’re less likely to take precautions,” said Morginn.

Also, the chances a northerner would be assaulted by an acquaintance was 20 per cent higher than in the south. And they were 20 per cent less likely to be assaulted by a stranger.

It’s the first time self-reported crime data from northern Canada has been compiled.(LC)

BUSINESS

Paddy’s lease is up

Paddy’s Place is boarded up.

It shut down Wednesday, after celebrating its one-year anniversary on Halloween.

“I’m so disappointed,” said owner Patrick Singh, Wednesday morning.

“It was a good, fun place.”

Singh’s lease expired October 31st. And Riverview Hotel owner Ed Festel refused to renew it.

“There was an option to renew,” said Singh.

“But he made no attempt to negotiate.

“He was just not a very friendly person to deal with.”

Singh’s rent payments have been late since day one, said Festel.

“Basically, he would always pay when I threatened to shut him down, then he would throw a couple hundred bucks at me.

“It’s like renting a room at the hotel and the guy comes down every two hours and gives me $10— it just doesn’t work that way.”

It’s been a nightmare, said Festel.

Singh’s rent is paid up, he added.

“And now he’s gone.”

Festel didn’t like the clientele, said Singh.

“He just used the late rent payments as an excuse.”

Singh always paid by the 5th, except for this month, he said.

“This was the latest I paid him — and he always got paid.”(GK)

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