Police-reported hate crime, 2019

2017 marked a major change since when these statistics were collected as shown in the above charts. Pre-COVID so recent spike in anti-Asian hate crimes not captured but largely post Black Lives Matter (but pre-George Floyd killing):

There were 1,946 police-reported hate crimes in Canada in 2019, up 7% from a year earlier. Other than a single peak of 2,073 hate crimes in 2017, police-reported numbers are the highest since 2009.

Today, Statistics Canada released a detailed analysis in the Juristat article “Police-reported hate crime in Canada, 2019” and the accompanying infographic “Infographic: Police-reported hate crime in Canada, 2019.”

Statistics Canada collects data on the number and nature of hate crimes reported to police in any given year and monitors trends over time. The following statistics from 2019 do not reflect the large-scale societal impacts, both nationally and globally, of the COVID-19 pandemic, as this information is not yet available. The 2019 police-reported hate crime data will, however, be a key reference point for 2020, to identify possible changes in Canadian crime patterns as a result of factors related to the pandemic. 

Results from a recent crowdsourcing survey show that, since the start of the pandemic, the proportion of participants designated as visible minorities who perceived an increase in race-based harassment or attacks was three times larger than the proportion among the rest of the population (18% versus 6%). This difference was most pronounced among Chinese (30%), Korean (27%), and Southeast Asian (19%) participants. In addition, some police services and media outlets, such as those in Vancouver(PDF 1,787 KB), Ottawa and Toronto (PDF 1,702 KB), have indicated significant increases in hate crime incidents in 2020.

Hate crimes target the integral and visible parts of a person’s identity and may disproportionately affect the wider community. A hate crime incident may be carried out against a person or property and may target race, colour, national or ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, language, sex, age, mental or physical disability, or any other similar factor. In addition, four specific offences are listed as hate propaganda or hate crimes in the Criminal Code of Canada: advocating genocide, public incitement of hatred, willful promotion of hatred and mischief motivated by hate in relation to property used by an identifiable group.

Hate-motivated crime up from 2018 and remains higher than previous 10-year average

The number of police-reported hate crimes in Canada was up 7% in 2019, rising from 1,817 incidents to 1,946. Since comparable data became available in 2009, the number of hate crimes has ranged from 1,167 incidents in 2013 to 2,073 in 2017. On average, 1,518 hate crime incidents have been reported annually by police since 2009.

Chart 1  
Number of police-reported hate crimes, Canada, 2009 to 2019

Chart 1: Number of police-reported hate crimes, Canada, 2009 to 2019

As with other crimes, self-reported data provide further insight into hate-motivated crimes. According to the 2014 General Social Survey on Canadians’ Safety (Victimization), Canadians reported being the victim of over 330,000 criminal incidents that they perceived as being motivated by hate in the 12 months that preceded the survey (5% of the total self-reported incidents). Two-thirds of these incidents were not reported to the police, a rate similar to that for victimization overall.

Hate-motivated crime accounts for a small proportion of all police-reported crime (around 0.1% of all non-traffic-related offences). However, police data on hate crimes reflect only those incidents that come to the attention of police and are classified as hate crimes. As a result, fluctuations in the number of reported incidents may be attributable to a true change in the volume of hate crimes, but they might also reflect changes in reporting by the public because of increased community outreach by police or heightened sensitivity after high-profile events.

Most provinces and all territories report increases in hate crimes

In 2019, eight provinces and all three territories posted increases in police-reported hate crimes. The largest contributors to the national increase were British Columbia (+49 incidents), Ontario (+43 incidents) and Quebec (+23 incidents). Alberta reported 38 fewer incidents and Nova Scotia had no change from the previous year.

Accounting for population size, hate crime rates were highest in British Columbia (6.1 incidents per 100,000 population), Ontario (5.9 incidents), Quebec (4.8 incidents) and Alberta (4.7 incidents). While the vast majority (84%) of hate crimes occurred in a census metropolitan area (CMA), non-CMA areas (small cities, small towns and rural areas) accounted for two-thirds (67%) of the increase in hate crime incidents in 2019. Stated another way, areas outside CMAs recorded 86 more incidents in 2019, while CMAs recorded 43 more incidents.

Police-reported hate crimes targeting race or ethnicity and sexual orientation were up compared with the previous year, accounting for most of the national increase. Hate crimes targeting religion were down because of fewer incidents targeting the Jewish population. There were more incidents targeting the Muslim population.

Chart 2  
Police-reported hate crimes, by region, 2017 to 2019

Chart 2: Police-reported hate crimes, by region, 2017 to 2019

Non-violent and violent hate crimes up in 2019

Non-violent hate crime accounted for over half (56%) of all hate crimes in 2019, the same proportion as in 2018. Both non-violent (+6%) and violent (+8%) hate crimes increased in 2019, contributing nearly equally to the overall increase in hate crime.

The increase in non-violent hate crime was largely the result of more incidents of general mischief (+7%). The rise in violent hate crime was driven by more incidents of common assault (+24%) and uttering threats (+12%).

As is typical of police-reported hate crime historically, mischief (general mischief and mischief towards property used primarily for worship or by an identifiable group) was the most common hate crime-related offence, accounting for almost half (45%) of all hate crime incidents.

Police-reported hate crimes motivated by hatred of a race or an ethnicity increase

Individuals designated as visible minorities generally report higher levels of discrimination than the non-visible minority population (20% versus 12%). Specifically, those who identified as Arab or Black were most likely to report having experienced discrimination, with four in five Black Canadians who had experienced discrimination indicating that their race or skin colour was the basis of the discrimination.

Almost half (46%) of all police-reported hate crime was motivated by hatred of a race or an ethnicity in 2019. Police reported 876 crimes motivated by hatred of a race or an ethnicity, up 10% from 2018, and 2 fewer than the record high in 2017. The rise was largely attributable to 40 more hate crimes targeting the Black population (+14%) and 35 more incidents targeting the Arab and West Asian populations (+38%).

With 335 police-reported incidents, hate crimes targeting the Black population reached their highest number recorded dating back to 2009. Hate crimes targeting the Black population accounted for 18% of all hate crimes in Canada, and this population was the most targeted group overall in 2019. Ontario (+29 incidents) and British Columbia (+16 incidents) accounted for the largest increases in hate crimes against the Black population, while Alberta (-19 incidents) reported the largest decrease.

The number of police-reported hate crimes against the Arab and West Asian populations rose from 93 to 128, following a 35% decrease a year earlier. This was the second-highest number dating back to 2009. These crimes accounted for 15% of hate crimes targeting race or ethnicity, and 7% of all hate crimes in 2019.

While the number of hate crimes targeting race or ethnicity rose in 2019, victimization data from the same year suggest that population groups designated as visible minorities were significantly less likely to report having a great deal of confidence in the police (35%), compared with non-visible minorities (44%). Perceptions of personal safety, prior victimization or discrimination, and confidence in the police can all impact the likelihood of an individual reporting a crime to the police.

Hate crimes targeting the Indigenous population continue to account for relatively few police-reported hate crimes

Incidents against Indigenous people—those who are First Nations, Métis or Inuit—continued to account for a relatively small proportion of police-reported hate crimes (2%), decreasing from 39 incidents in 2018 to 30 incidents in 2019.

Police-reported violent hate crimes against Indigenous people are more likely than most other hate crimes to involve female victims. From 2010 to 2019, 45% of victims of violent hate crimes against Indigenous people were female, compared with 32% of all victims of violent hate crimes.

According to the most recent victimization information, Indigenous victims of non-spousal violence were less likely to report the crime to police than their non-Indigenous counterparts. Furthermore, Indigenous people were less likely to report having a great deal of confidence in the police compared with their non-Indigenous counterparts. Previous research has described the relationship between Indigenous people and the police as one of mistrust because of a range of systemic issues that have contributed to experiences of social and institutional marginalization, discrimination, violence, and intergenerational trauma. It is therefore unclear how the number of police-reported hate crimes may be impacted.

Record high number of hate crimes targeting sexual orientation

According to the 2018 Survey of Safety in Public and Private Spaces, an estimated 1 million people in Canada are sexual minorities—that is, they reported their sexual orientation as gay, lesbian, bisexual or a sexual orientation that is not heterosexual. Compared with heterosexual Canadians, sexual minority Canadians were more likely to report having been violently victimized in their lifetime and were more likely to have experienced inappropriate behaviours in public and online. At the same time, sexual minority Canadians were less likely to report having been physically assaulted to the police.

Police reported 263 hate crimes targeting sexual orientation in 2019, up 41% from a year earlier. This was the highest number of hate crimes targeting sexual orientation dating back to 2009. Nearly 9 in 10 (88%) of these crimes specifically targeted the gay and lesbian community, while the remainder comprised incidents targeting bisexual people (2%); people with other sexual orientations, such as asexual, pansexual or other non-heterosexual orientations (6%); and people whose sexual orientation was unknown (4%).

As was the case in previous years, violent crimes accounted for more than half (53%) of hate crimes targeting sexual orientation. In comparison, just over one-quarter (27%) of hate crimes targeting religion and just over half (52%) of hate crimes targeting race or ethnicity were violent.

Hate crimes targeting religion down for the second year in a row, with fewer anti-Semitic hate crimes

In 2019, 608 hate crimes targeting religion were reported by police, down 7% compared with 2018. Although this was the second year-over-year decrease in a row, following a peak of 842 incidents in 2017, the number was higher than those recorded prior to 2017. Victimization information has shown that people affiliated with a non-Christian religion were significantly more likely than Christians to report having experienced discrimination on the basis of their religion (11% versus 1%).

Following a 63% jump in 2017 and a 3% increase in 2018, the number of incidents targeting the Jewish population decreased 20% in 2019, from 372 to 296. The decline was the result of fairly widespread decreases, including fewer incidents in Alberta (-29), British Columbia (-20), Ontario (-19) and Quebec (-18). While police-reported metrics indicate a decrease in hate crimes targeting the Jewish population, an annual audit conducted by B’Nai Brith Canada reported a record number of anti-Semitic incidents for the fourth consecutive year.

In contrast, following a large decrease in hate crimes against the Muslim population in 2018, police reported 15 more incidents in 2019, for a total of 181 (+9%). The increase in police-reported hate crimes against Muslims was largely the result of more incidents in Quebec (+15 incidents).

Violent incidents targeting the Muslim population were more likely than other types of hate crimes to involve female victims. From 2010 to 2019, almost half (47%) of victims of violent hate crimes targeting the Muslim population were female, compared with one-third (32%) of all hate crime victims.

Source: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/210329/dq210329a-eng.htm?CMP=mstatcan

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.

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