Tuesday, October 27, 1998
For release at 8:30 a.m.
The national homicide rate declined 9% in 1997 to its lowest point since 1969. The homicide rate has generally been decreasing since the mid-1970s, following rapid growth during the late 1960s and early 1970s. There were 581 homicides in 1997, 54 fewer than in 1996.
Compared with other industrialized countries, Canada's 1997 homicide rate of 1.92 per 100,000 population was less than one-third that of the United States (6.70), but higher than most European countries, such as England and Wales (1.00) and France (1.66).
Spousal homicides include people in registered marriages and common-law relationships, as well as those who were separated or divorced. Including both husbands and wives, the number of spousal homicides has gradually declined from more than 100 each year in the early 1990s to 75 in 1997. Four out of every five victims of spousal homicide in 1997 were women.
Women are far more likely to be killed by their spouse than by a stranger. In 1997, 61 women were killed by a current spouse or an ex-spouse, compared with 12 who were killed by a stranger.
Another 12 women were killed by a boyfriend or ex-boyfriend. In all, 128 women were victims of homicide, and slightly more than half of them were killed by a spouse, ex-spouse, boyfriend or ex-boyfriend.
Table: Spousal homicides ______________________________________________________________________________ Year Male victims Female Total victims ______________________________________________________________________________ 1988 21 72 93 1989 22 76 98 1990 26 74 100 1991 25 87 112 1992 18 87 105 1993 24 63 87 1994 20 66 86 1995 21 69 90 1996 19 62 81 1997 14 61 75 ______________________________________________________________________________ Year Spousal victims as % of all homicides ______________________________________________________________________________ 1988 16.1 1989 14.9 1990 15.2 1991 14.9 1992 14.3 1993 13.9 1994 14.4 1995 15.3 1996 12.8 1997 12.9 ______________________________________________________________________________
Other homicides involving families in 1997 included 62 children who were killed by a parent, which was slightly higher than the annual average of 51 children during the past 10 years. Almost one in three of these homicides committed by a parent was a murder-suicide, most of which were committed by the father.
Statistics on homicides in Canada for 1997 were originally released in The Daily on July 22, 1998, as part of a wide-ranging report on all crimes. This report presents a more detailed analysis of homicide data.
In addition to these children, 18 individuals were killed by a son or daughter, nine by a sibling and 22 by another relative.
Homicides continue to be committed primarily by someone known to the victim. In 1997, only 13% of all victims, or 58 people, were killed by a stranger, 10 fewer than in 1996. The proportion of homicides committed by strangers has remained relatively stable in recent years at around 14%.
In 1997, there were 193 homicides committed with firearms, a 9% decline from the previous year. These represented one-third of all homicides, consistent with previous years. The majority of firearm-related deaths in Canada are a result of suicide. Each year there are about five times as many suicides as homicides involving firearms.
Handguns were used in 99 homicides in 1997, just over half of all firearm homicides, a 7% decline from 1996. Since 1991, handguns have accounted for about one in six homicides. In contrast, between 1974 and 1990, handguns were used in only 1 in 10 homicides.
Shootings represented one-third (33%) of all homicides in 1997, while stabbings accounted for 29%, beatings 20%, strangulation and suffocation 9%, and arson 5%.
Surveys have shown that the elderly have the highest levels of fear of being a crime victim. However, in terms of homicides, individuals aged 60 and older are actually at low risk.
In 1997, 72 people aged 60 and older were victims of homicide, a rate of 1.46 for every 100,000 population. This is somewhat lower than the rate of 1.92 for all age groups. People aged 18 to 29 had the highest homicide rate, 3.39 for every 100,000 individuals in that age group, while the lowest rate, 1.16, was for children and young people aged 18 and under.
In 1997, one police officer was a victim of homicide in Canada, compared with 64 in the United States, which has a population 10 times greater than Canada's.
Nine other persons were murdered on the job in Canada in 1997: three gas bar attendants, three store clerks or managers, two hotel managers or owners, and one bar manager or owner. In addition, 14 known drug dealers and six known prostitutes were reported murdered.