Western Canadians Perceive Increase in Criminal Activity

Fewer than a third of residents of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have reported crimes to the police.

Vancouver, BC [November 24, 2020] – More than two-in-five residents of four Canadian provinces believe that unlawful activity is on the rise in their communities, even if significantly fewer have actually been victims of crime, a new Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of representative provincial samples, 54% of Manitobans say the level of criminal activity has increased in their community over the past three years.

Almost half of Albertans (48%) also feel that criminal activity in their communities has risen in the past three years. The numbers are slightly lower in British Columbia (42%) and Saskatchewan (41%).

The proportion of residents of the four western provinces who feel crime has decreased is in single digits (7% in Manitoba, 6% in Alberta and British Columbia, and 5% in Saskatchewan).

When respondents are asked if they have been victims of a crime that was reported to the police (such as an assault or a car break-in) in their community, only 20% of British Columbians answered affirmatively. The proportion is higher in Alberta (24%), Saskatchewan (27%) and Manitoba (31%).

“There is a clear divide between perceptions of crime and the reality that communities across Western Canada are reporting,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “Respondents are significantly more likely to believe that unlawful activity has increased than to have personally experienced crime.”

In British Columbia, three-in-ten residents of Northern BC (31%) and one-in-five residents of Metro Vancouver (21%) say that they have been victims of a crime that was reported to the police over the past three years. 

In Alberta, residents of Edmonton are more likely to have experienced crime (26%) than those in Calgary (22%) or in the rest of the province (23%). 

A similar situation is observed in Saskatchewan, where more residents of Saskatoon (28%) say they have been victims of crime than those who live in Regina (24%) or in the rest of the province (18%).

In Manitoba, the proportion criminal activity reported to the police stands at 29% in Winnipeg and at 33% in the remaining areas of the province.

The groups that are more likely to believe that criminal activity is on the rise in their communities are British Columbians aged 55 and over (45%), Albertans aged 55 and over (56%), women in Saskatchewan (45%) and Manitobans aged 35-to-54 (58%).

Results are based on an online study conducted from November 14 to November 16, 2020, among 800 adults in British Columbia, 600 adults In Alberta, 600 adults in Saskatchewan and 600 adults in Manitoba. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in each province. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.5 percentage points for British Columbia and+/- 4.0 percentage points for Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, nineteen times out of twenty.

Find our data tables here and download the press release here. 

For more information on this poll, please contact:

Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.
[e] mario.canseco@researchco.ca