Crime Trends

The Waterloo Regional Police Service carefully monitors crime in our community and the Crime Analysis Branch is responsible for identifying real time similarities and ongoing trends throughout the year. The Strategic Services Branch collects data, measures, and analyses the broader information in order to provide informed operational recommendations.

Our data is open to the public so if you would like to use our data to conduct your own research, please check out our About our data page.

BELOW:  Crime trends are calculated annually and provided within the Annual Report and by Statistics Canada.  

 Crime Trends: 2016


Total Criminal Code Violations (excluding traffic) increased again this year, by 4.8% from 2015. Contributing to this trend were increases in Violent Crime (6.5%), in Property Crime (1.0%), and in Other Criminal Code Offences (15.1%). Violent Crime, or Crimes Against the Person, increased by 6.5% in Waterloo Region in 2016. Driving the overall increase in Violent Crime were Attempted Murder (up by 2 or 66.7%), Sexual Violations (13.2%), Assaults (7.7%), Violations Resulting in the Deprivation of Freedom (24.4%), and Other Violations Involving Violence or the Threat of Violence (1.4%).

Regarding Sexual Violations, there were 18 more incidents of Level 1 Sexual Assault (5.7%), and Sexual Interference was up by 9 (10.1%). There were 13 counts of Nonconsensual Distribution of Intimate Images, a new UCR code introduced in 2015. There were 10 counts of Commodification of Sexual Activity, another whole new subcategory within Violent Crime. The implementation of the new Child and Youth Advocacy Centre in April 2016 has positively influenced the reporting of these types of incidents. Regarding Assaults, notable increases were in Level 1 Assaults (5.5%) and Level 2 Assaults (10.2%). The increase in Violations Resulting in the Deprivation of Freedom was mainly due to the increase in Forcible Confinement (19.5%). In Other Violent Violations, Robbery was up by 6.9% and Utter Threats to a Person up by 4.9%. Trending in the other direction, Violations Causing Death was the only subcategory of Violent Crimes that declined. Compared to 2015, there were three less 1st or 2nd degree murders, which resulted in an overall drop of -33.3% in Violations Causing Death.

Non-Violent Crime, or Crimes Against Property, rose 1% in Waterloo Region compared to 2015.   Some of the crimes driving this increase include Shoplifting $5000 or Under (6.2%), Theft Under and Over $5000 (1.5% and 31.7%), and Arson (19.8%). Investigators indicate the significant influx of addictive substances in our Region fuels drug related crime such as shoplifting and theft. Identity fraud continues to rise (17.8%), as this type of crime is prevalent and targets victims via a host of internet and phone scams with the intent to harvest personal information. Notable declines in Property Crime include Break and Enters (-8.5%), Motor Vehicle Thefts (-1%), and reported incidents of Mischief (-2.8%).

Other Criminal Code Violations, also considered non-violent, were 15.1% higher in 2016 than in 2015. Differences from the Most Serious Violation counting methodology compared to the All Count methodology used in this Summary are more noticeable in these non-violent offence categories. The two most frequent Other Criminal Code violation types, Failure to Comply with Conditions and Breach of Probation, each with more than two thousand counts, went up 15.9% and 18.1% respectively. Investigators are finding more individuals are being released and re-offending, and some investigative projects are now concentrating on individuals with court ordered terms and conditions to reduce recidivism. Other significant increases were in Offensive Weapons, with Weapons Possession Contrary to Order up by 33.9% and Possession of Weapons up by 31%. Production/Distribution of Child Pornography, which was up 50.9%, is a type of crime significantly influenced by police resources. With the expansion of our Cybercrime Branch in 2017, these numbers are expected to increase even more in 2017.   Some of the Other Criminal Code Violations that decreased include Prostitution (-45.5%), Counterfeiting Currency (-25.4%), Offences Against Public Order (-37%), and Proceeds of Crime (-76.2%).

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) offences experienced an overall 5.2% increase. Most of this increase is due to Possession offences including all types of controlled drugs and substances. Violations for Trafficking, Importation and Exportation, and Production were minimal or decreased, with the exception of increases in Other CDSA types. Fentanyl is currently included in this "Other" category of CDSA types, as are Xanax or Alazapan that was seized in a significant pill press investigation. Drug offences are another type of violation that can be significantly influenced by police resources. Other Federal Statute Violations, specifically Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) offences, were down by 24.2% in Waterloo Region in 2016. This reduction may be influenced by increased use of youth diversions throughout the Region.

Criminal Code Traffic Violations experienced an overall decrease of -13.3% in 2016, driven largely by a significant decrease in Failure to Stop or Remain. In this case, a review of internal coding processes has influenced the change. Notable increases of Traffic Violations include Dangerous Operation of a Motor Vehicle (7.9%), Flight from Peace Officer (35.1%), Impaired Operation of Motor Vehicle or Over 80 mg (8.4%), and Failure to Provide Breath Sample (20.4%). Moving forward, strategic enforcement, the encouragement of citizen reporting, and public education will continue.

 Why Measure Crime?

Crime hurts victims and ripples to affect society as a whole. As such, all levels of government devote resources to provide policing, court, correctional, and victim services. To shape these services, government, policy makers, and researchers rely on crime information. Thus, for these reasons, measuring crime counts, types, and trends is important. 

 Measuring Crime in Canada

Every police service across Canada is mandated to submit Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) data to Statistics Canada, who, since 1962 has worked in co-operation with the policing community to define police-reported crime and its characteristics. This makes for a standardized comparison - a similar and consistent way of measuring the incidence of crime in Canadian society - when this national data is published in Statistics Canada’s annual UCR Survey.

Measuring crime requires attention to detail and being clear about what is counted since “crime” comes in many forms. A criminal incident may consist of one or more related offences that are committed during a single event. If the criminal incident is violent in nature, the offences are counted once for each victim. Additionally, statistics may be reported based on when the crime occurred or when it was reported. To be consistent for comparison’s sake, Statistics Canada counts the Most Serious Violation (MSV). The MSV methodology considers only the most serious offence in an incident. To complement Statistics Canada’s publications, WRPS counts all offences (All Count) in our annual Criminal Offence Summary to more wholly represent crime in our region. WRPS All Count results will differ slightly from Statistics Canada’s MSV count, and that is okay. Both are valid. 

 Availability of National Crime Statistics

Due to the length of investigations, follow-up, evidence processing, and the complexity of crime, police services are typically given until March 31st each year to submit their year-end UCR statistics. Statistics Canada then runs a variety of verification processes and their tables and reports for the previous year’s crime statistics begin to be published near the end of July. 

Due to the 2020 pandemic, Statistics Canada’s release of their annual “Police-reported crime statistics, 2019” has been delayed.  The publication includes the volume and severity of police-reported crimes, clearance rates, and more, broken out by province/census metropolitan area/municipal police service. Visit and search for incident-based crime statistics and crime severity indexes to learn more.

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