Views on Crime in British Columbia Vary by Generation

In the past four years, one-in-five residents of the province have reported a crime to the police.

Vancouver, BC [August 16, 2019] – The perceptions of British Columbians on crime and public safety go through sizeable fluctuations according to age, a new Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative sample of British Columbians, two-in-five of the province’s residents (40%) say they fear becoming a victim of a crime in their community “a great deal” or “a fair amount.”

British Columbians aged 18-to-34 (48%) are significantly more likely to fear becoming victims of crime than those aged 35-to-54 (40%) and those aged 55 and over (33%).

On a regional basis, the area where most British Columbians fear becoming victims of a crime is Metro Vancouver (43%), followed by Southern BC (40%), the Fraser Valley (39%), Northern BC (37%) and Vancouver Island (30%).

“There is a deep generational divide when it comes to perceptions of public safety in British Columbia,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “Millennials are more likely to fear becoming victims and Baby Boomers are more likely to say that crime is on the rise in their community.”

While two thirds of British Columbians (68%) acknowledge that they would feel “very safe” or “moderately safe” walking alone in their own neighbourhood after dark, 31% say they would feel  “moderately unsafe” or “very unsafe.”

Women (41%) and British Columbians aged 18-to-34 (39%) are more likely to report that they would feel “unsafe” walking alone in their own neighbourhood after dark.

Almost two-in-five British Columbians (41%, +3 since a similar Research Co. poll conducted in June 2018) think the level of criminal activity in their community has increased in the past four years.

Most residents of Southern BC (56%) and the Fraser Valley (54%) believe crime has increased in their communities, compared to 41% for Northern BC, 38% for Vancouver Island and 37% for Metro Vancouver.

Across the province, one-in-five British Columbians (20%) say they have been the victims of a crime over the past few years where the police was called in (such as an assault or a car break-in) in their community—including 26% of those aged 18-to-34.

When asked how much specific factors are to blame “a great deal” for the current situation regarding crime and public safety in their community, more than two-in-five British Columbians (45%) point to “addiction and mental health issues” while one third (32%) select “gangs and the illegal drug trade.”

Fewer residents of the province blame an “inadequate court system” (24%), “poverty and inequality” (23%), “lack of values and the improper education of youth” (17%), “bad economy and unemployment” (14%), “insufficient policing and lack of resources to combat crime” (13%) and “immigrants and minorities” (9%).


Results are based on an online study conducted from August 7 to August 10, 2019, among 800 adults in British Columbia. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in British Columbia. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.5 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.

Find our full data set here and download the press release here. 

For more information on this poll, please contact:

Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.