FUREY: What they’re not telling you about Canada’s hate crime stats

While there are limitations in the annual police reported hate crimes, by and large they provide a reasonable albeit imperfect indicator. The threshold of reporting to the police is higher than reporting to community organizations, particularly for communities that have lower levels of trust in police (e.g., Blacks).

While it would be nice to have data on charges laid and convictions, unlikely that such data would indicate large numbers of fraudulent claims that Furey intimates. StatCan in fact did such an analysis in its Police-reported hate crime in Canada, 2017, showing this not to be a major issue.

As to his critique of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network’s call for an annual survey, I agree that this should not replace the police-reported reports, again given the higher threshold.

And we do get some data from the General Social Survey on discrimination and dealing with the police, depicted below:

StatCan did a useful analysis of the 2017 and earlier report (Police-reported hate crime in Canada, 2017) that provided a breakdown of violent vs non-violent hate crimes by group, showing, for example, a greater proportion of violent hate crimes against Muslims (40 percent) than Jews (15 percent):

Hate crimes targeting the Black population and religion more often non-violent

Non-violent crimes accounted for 62% of crimes targeting the Black population from 2010 to 2017. A significant portion (53%) of these non-violent crimes were mischief. Non-violent crimes most often occurred in a single-family home (18% of incidents), in schools outside of school hours (14%), and on the street (14%). Of the 38% of hate crime targeting the Black population that were violent crimes, common assault was the most common type (14%). One quarter of violent hate crimes targeting the Black population took place on the street, 16% in a single-family home and 12% in a dwelling unit.

During the same period, 60% of crimes against the Muslim population were non-violent while the other 40% were violent. The most common violent hate crimes were uttering threats (18%) and common assault (8%) (see note 20). The most frequent locations of violent incidents were the street (19%) or at a single-family home (17%). The most frequent non-violent crimes were mischief (35%) and public incitement of hatred (9%). Non-violent crimes targeting the Muslim population occurred most often at religious institutions (17%).

From 2010 to 2017, 85% of hate crimes against the Jewish population were non-violent. The majority of these hate crimes were mischief (70%). The second and third most frequent offences against this population were uttering threats (6%) and hate-motivated mischief relating to property primarily used for religious worship or by an identifiable group (5%). While a notable proportion of non-violent hate crimes targeting the Jewish population occurred at a single-family home (18%), on the street (13%), or in schools outside of school hours (11%). Violent crimes most often occurred in a single family home (21%), businesses (17%), or on the street (15%).

Hopefully, StatCan will do an update of this analysis for 2018, including a data table:

It’s that time of the year again, when Canada’s annual hate crimes statistics are released and advocacy groups send out their press releases and take to the airwaves to break down what it all means.

While there’s often an alarming tone to the occasion, this year’s conversation will likely be more muted than in previous years because the latest numbers have gone down by 13%, from 2,073 in 2017 to 1,798 in 2018.

That said, as StatsCan explains: “Even with this decline, the number of hate crimes remains higher (with the exception of 2017) than any other year since 2009, and aligns with the upward trend observed since 2014.”

When broken down by identifiable group, Monday’s release means a 50% drop in hate crimes targeting Muslims, 15% fewer targeting sexual orientation, 12% fewer against black individuals and a 4% drop in incidents against Jews.

But this time around, before we take these numbers and try to craft a narrative around them, let’s take a step back and look at how they’re put together in the first place. Because there’s a lot StatsCan isn’t telling you in their release that doesn’t make its way into the basic reporting.

For starters, an overview of hate crimes will cover broad terrain – from graffiti that harms no one to violent incidents like the Quebec mosque massacre. They’re both bad and it’s right to have a zero-tolerance attitude to all categories, but obviously, the first one is cause for much less concern than the second one.

The numbers have always shown that, thankfully, the more severe forms of hate crimes are much rarer. Out of the 1,798 number, there were 138 incidents in 2018 that involved bodily harm to an individual and only 2 of those resulted in deaths. Compare that to “mischief/mischief to religious property”, which had 782 incidents. Threats alone made up for 251 incidents.

There’s another problem with all of this data though, one that calls into question not just how we talk about specifics, but the validity of the entire conversation itself.

The StatsCan release on Monday added some interesting context: “Police data on hate-motivated crimes include only those incidents that come to the attention of police services.” In other words, there could be more hate crimes happening that the police never heard about.

That’s a fair point. But they don’t offer the flip side of the coin, and they should. Which is that these stats aren’t “hate crimes” full stop. They’re “police-reported hate crimes”.

What does that mean? It means what it sounds like. Someone calls the cops and says a hate crime occurred.

It doesn’t mean these are all cases where someone was found guilty of perpetrating a hate crime. It doesn’t have to even mean the police properly investigated the incident. For many of these cases, it just means someone said something happened and the police jotted it down.

When I made a media request to Statistics Canada last year to ask for the number of actual charges, convictions and acquittals related to hate crimes I learned that they don’t compile these figures. This means they don’t tally the proven cases – they count when everything is still at the potential stage.

Prior to the release of this year’s data, the Canadian Anti-Hate Network – our version of the controversial left-leaning Southern Poverty Law Center – called on Statistics Canada to revise their methodology. They recommend that instead of using police-reported data, StatsCan does an annual survey that “asks Canadians if they’ve been the victim of a hate crime and takes a believe-the-victims approach”.

Is this a wise idea? Wouldn’t that only further muddy the waters? The facts tell us that alleged victims can and do lie.

A special prosecutor is currently being assigned to investigate the Jussie Smollett case. A Winnipeg couple has been charged for allegedly staging an anti-Semitic attack against their own cafe. And everyone remembers the hijab hoax case in Toronto that saw none other than Prime Minister Justin Trudeau weigh in on an assault that never happened.

One expert on the issue recommends Canadians ask critical questions of these statistics. “What’s the rate of hoax? That’s a blunt question but it’s extremely useful,” says Wilfred Reilly, a professor of political science at Kentucky State University, in an interview with the Sun.

Reilly studied American hate crime statistics in-depth, resulting in the publication of his new book Hate Crime Hoax: How the Left is Selling a Fake Race War.

“I would put the confirmed hoax rate at about 15% – cases that definitely unraveled and were provably debunked,” explains Reilly. “5% result in convictions and the rest are ambiguous.” He suggests the Canadian figures could likely be similar.

If we’re going to have a national conversation about hate crimes every year, we’re going to have to get better data. Or, at the very least, let Canadians know the facts behind the numbers we’re discussing so they can determine their usefulness.

Could the real number of hate crimes happening be significantly higher? Certainly. Or could we be overrun with hoaxes? That’s also possible. Given what we’re working with, we just don’t know.

Source: FUREY: What they’re not telling you about Canada’s hate crime stats

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

One Response to FUREY: What they’re not telling you about Canada’s hate crime stats

  1. Pingback: The Wrath of CAHN | C2C Journal

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: