Integrated Criminal Court Survey (ICCS)

Status:
Active
Frequency:
Annual
Record number:
3312

The objective of this survey is to develop and maintain a national criminal court database of statistical information on appearances, charges, and cases for youths and adults appearing in criminal court in Canada.

Detailed information for 2011-2012

Data release - June 13, 2013

Description

The objective of the Integrated Criminal Court Survey (ICCS) is to develop and maintain a national database of statistical information on appearances, charges, and cases in youth courts and adult criminal courts. The survey is intended to be a census of pending and completed federal statute charges heard in provincial-territorial and superior courts in Canada. Appeal courts, federal courts (e.g., Tax Court of Canada) and the Supreme Court of Canada are not covered by the survey.

The survey includes information on the age and sex of the accused, case decisions, sentencing information regarding the length of prison and probation, and amount of fine, as well as case-processing indicators such as case elapsed time. These survey data are collected by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (CCJS) in collaboration with provincial and territorial government departments responsible for criminal courts. The collection of data is from administrative records, in which data are derived from records originally kept for non-statistical purposes. The data are collected to respond to the needs of the provincial, territorial and federal departments of justice and attorneys-general, researchers and policy analysts, academics and the media, as well as to inform the public on how youths and adults appearing in provincial-territorial and superior criminal courts are dealt with in Canada.

The Integrated Criminal Court Survey (ICCS) is an annual administrative data survey that was implemented to replace two previous micro-data surveys: the Adult Criminal Court Survey (ACCS, see legacy versions of record number 3312) and the Youth Court Survey (YCS, see record number 3309). The purpose of redevelopment was to collect new information related to the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA). At the same time, it was an opportunity to integrate data collection and processing, implement a snapshot data collection strategy (collect appearances as they occurred rather than once the case was completed), and change survey definitions to more closely reflect court processing.

Statistical activity

The survey is currently administered as part of the National Justice Statistics Initiative (NJSI). Since 1981, the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Deputy Ministers responsible for the administration of justice in Canada, with the Chief Statistician, have been working together in an enterprise known as the National Justice Statistics Initiative. The mandate of the NJSI is to provide information to the justice community as well as the public on criminal and civil justice in Canada. Although this responsibility is shared among Federal, Provincial and Territorial departments, the lead responsibility for the development of Canada's statistical system remains with Statistics Canada.

The survey is currently administered as part of the Courts Program. The objective of the Courts Program is to collect and disseminate information on the operation of the court system in Canada.

Reference period:
Fiscal year (April 1 to March 31)

Subjects

  • Children and youth
  • Crime and justice
  • Crime and justice (youth)
  • Criminal courts

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The objective of the Integrated Criminal Court Survey (ICCS) is to develop and maintain a national database of statistical information on appearances, charges, and cases in youth courts and adult criminal courts. The survey is intended to be a census of pending and completed federal statute charges heard in provincial-territorial and superior courts in Canada. Appeal courts, federal courts (e.g., Tax Court of Canada) and the Supreme Court of Canada are not covered by the survey.

The adult component of the survey includes persons aged 18 years or older at the time of the offence and companies.

The youth component of the survey includes persons aged 12 to 17 years old at the time of the offence and companies.

Instrument design

Integrated Criminal Court Survey (ICCS) data collection tools and data requirements were developed with the assistance of representatives from provincial and territorial departments responsible for youth courts and adult criminal courts in Canada.

Micro-data are extracted electronically from administrative databases by means of a software interface and submitted to Statistics Canada in an electronic format. Prior to data collection commencing, these interfaces are extensively tested to ensure the required data standards are met. Computer-aided data collection techniques are not used other than local programming used to extract administrative data from information systems.

Sampling

This survey is a census with a cross-sectional design.

Data are collected for all units of the target population; therefore, no sampling is done.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2011-06-01 to 2012-07-31

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are extracted from administrative files.

The Integrated Criminal Court Survey draws on information from the administrative databases in operation in the youth and adult criminal courts in the provinces and territories. The data are collected so as to conform to a set of national definitions, rather than provincial or territorial level definitions.

The initial stage involves the recording of court proceedings in some form of docket at court locations.

Data from court dockets are data captured into provincial and territorial automated operational systems. Data are then transferred into automated information system files within the jurisdiction.

Computer interfaces are developed that map survey concepts to the information system of each participating province or territory. Only the in-scope data are then electronically pulled off the system as microdata. These data files are forwarded to the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (CCJS) electronically according to a reporting schedule.

Error detection

A number of tools have been developed for the ICCS to minimize or correct errors.

System error may be introduced during the extraction and transcription of provincial or territorial data into ICCS format. The CCJS minimized this source of error by implementing a standard interface development methodology that requires a complete testing of the software by both the CCJS and the province or territory prior to implementation.

To ensure system error is not introduced by the ICCS data processing systems, the systems were subject to logic testing by the developer, user acceptance testing performed by the CCJS and/or the Methodology Division of Statistics Canada, and volume testing performed by the system developer.

The ICCS central processing system contains an automated edit module that examines all incoming data for format and consistency.

Imputation

Field values that do not meet edit specifications or are out of range are deemed to be 'not available' and are re-coded accordingly such that processing may continue. Imputations such as donor imputation are not performed.

Records that are missing key fields (province or territory, court location, information number, accused identifier, charge sequence number, and court appearance date) are rejected.

Quality evaluation

The incoming data are assessed for consistency and completeness. Every year, a data quality report and a set of verification tables are sent to reporting jurisdictions for their review and verification prior to release. These reports also highlight problems, if any, that were observed during analysis of the data, and include an historical trend analysis of the main indicators, such as number of cases by type of decision.

The products from this survey are subject to both institutional and peer review (justice departments, etc.).

Data assessment activities are regularly undertaken by both the provinces/territories and the CCJS to monitor data quality and to provide direction for any modifications where data quality problems are identified. The data are subjected to year-to-year comparisons. Comparisons are made between the survey data and figures contained in the provincial/territorial reports of court operational or case management systems.

Comparisons with Other Sectors of the Justice System:

It is difficult to make comparisons between data reported by courts and data from other sectors of the criminal justice system (i.e., police and corrections). There is no single unit of count (i.e., incidents, offences, charges, cases or persons) which is defined consistently across the major sectors of the justice system. As well, charges actually laid can be different from the most serious offence by which incidents are categorized. In addition, the number and type of charges laid by police may change at the pre-court stage or during the court process. Time lags between the various stages of the justice process also make comparisons difficult.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects which could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

Preliminary results are not released or available to the public. They are simply used for verification purposes and for draft CCJS reports.

CCJS has a policy of not releasing any tables or cross-tabs that may identify a particular individual.

Data accuracy

The Integrated Criminal Court Survey (ICCS) is a data collection strategy designed to integrate the collection of adult and youth court data. The ICCS collects data for both the legacy Adult Criminal Court Survey (ACCS) and the legacy Youth Court Survey (YCS).

With one exception, all survey records are structured according to the ICCS record layout and sent to CCJS for processing. The information from Quebec`s provincial courts is still reported using the ACCS National Data Requirements (NDR), rather than the ICCS NDR. The data are converted to the ICCS format, to the extent possible, during data processing activities. This reporting limitation results in a lack of data on conditional sentences, Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) offences and has an impact on measures of case elapsed time.

The transition of data collection to the ICCS did not occur simultaneously for all courts in all provinces and territories. However, all legacy youth and adult survey data have been processed to reflect the new ICCS case definition and counts should not be compared with those in previously released data tables and reports (used in releases prior to October 2007).

As of 2005/2006, all provincial and territorial courts in 10 provinces and 3 territories reported to the ACCS/ICCS. Information from superior courts in Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan as well as municipal courts in Quebec could not be extracted from their electronic reporting systems and was therefore unavailable. The absence of data from superior courts in these five jurisdictions may have resulted in a slight underestimation of the severity of sentences since some of the most serious cases, which are likely to result in the most severe sanctions, are processed in superior courts. There may also be a slight underestimation of case elapsed times as more serious cases generally require more court appearances and take more time to complete.

While these limitations are important, comparisons from one year to another are possible if the reporting jurisdictions used in the comparison are held constant.

All youth courts in Canada have reported to the YCS/ICCS since the 1991/1992 fiscal year.

Data file