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VJN News

The cost of crime in Canada

VJN News

The cost of crime in Canada has soared to the all-time high of $85 billion while crime rates continued to fall, according to a report released by the Fraser Institute.

The report written by Stephen Easton, Hilary Furness and Paul Brantingham says the cost of crime has increased from $42.4 billion in 1998.

The researchers say that of the $85 billion, $47 billion is the amount of victims’ losses as a result of criminal acts committed against them. The authors of the report admit that their estimates of the pain and suffering victims of crime endure is underrepresented.

The report says it’s easy to calculate the cost to a victim of a property crime, such as theft. What is difficult to determine is the cost a victim’s behaviour will change following a crime. They may replace the locks on their house or get a security system.

Even more difficult, the report says, is to put a price on the trauma, pain and suffering that comes with victimization.

“On the one hand, if we are confronted with someone who is about to hit us over the head with an iron bar, we recognize that we would pay anything to prevent this event,” the report says. “Yet, in fact, we always accept a certain level of risk while going about our daily activities.”

Although the report says crime rates have fallen about 27 per cent from 2002 to 2012, the cost of policing, dealing with crime through the justice system and corrections have increased.

The researchers say the cost of policing has jumped by 44 per cent, corrections by 33 per cent and court expenses rose by 21 per cent.

“The most embarrassing lacunae in Canadian data is information on Canadian courts,” the report says. “We have no systemic way of assessing whether the courts are getting more or less effective in dealing with the cases that they see, let alone understanding how much as a society we are paying. For a developed nation, this is disappointing to say the least.”

The report also points out that there are many other gaps in the measurement of the cost of crime, such as the absence of annual assessments of the cost of private security, business losses or medical costs.