Detailed information for 2015
This survey collects detailed data on homicide in Canada. The survey has collected police-reported data on the characteristics of all murder incidents, victims and accused persons since 1961 and all homicides (including murder, manslaughter and infanticide) since 1974.
Data release - November 23, 2016
- Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s)
- Data sources and methodology
- Data accuracy
Under the authority of the Statistics Act, Revised Statutes of Canada, 1985, Chapter S19, the Homicide Survey collects police-reported data on the characteristics of all homicide incidents, victims and accused persons in Canada. The Homicide Survey began collecting information on all murders in 1961 and later added data collection on all manslaughters and infanticides in 1974. The survey remained virtually unchanged until 1991 when, in an effort to respond to changing information needs, it was revised and expanded. Additional changes were incorporated in 1997 and 2005.
The data are intended to respond to the needs of those who work in the criminal justice system (such as the policing community) as well as to inform researchers, policy analysts, academics, the media and the public on the nature and extent of homicide in Canada.
Reference period: Calendar year
Collection period: January of the reference year to spring following the reference year
- Crime and justice
- Crimes and offences
- Victims and victimization
Data sources and methodology
Police services report information to the Homicide Survey on all homicides that occur in Canada.
The Homicide Survey is comprised of three main questionnaires: (1) the Incident Questionnaire; (2) the Victim Questionnaire; and (3) the Charged/Suspect-Chargeable Questionnaire. The questionnaires were developed in consultation with justice representatives from the jurisdictions, including various police agencies, the Police Information and Statistics (POLIS) Committee and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP).
The Incident Questionnaire collects details pertaining to the circumstances surrounding the homicide incident. These questions include the date and geographic location of the homicide as well as information relating to the violation. Other variables include any related offence associated with the homicide, drug involvement, gang activity and motive for the homicide.
The Victim Questionnaire gathers information on the characteristics of the person who is the victim of the homicide. Demographic characteristics (e.g. gender, date of birth, marital status, employment status) of the homicide victim as well as additional information relating to the cause of death, weapon used, firearm details (if applicable) and relationship between the accused and the victim are collected.
The Charged/Suspect-Chargeable Questionnaire gathers information on the characteristics of the person accused of the homicide. Once a person(s) has been charged or against whom enough evidence exists to lay a charge, police gather basic demographic information (e.g. gender, date of birth, marital status, employment status) as well as information relating to the mental health status of the accused, alcohol and/or drug use, previous criminal convictions and any history of family violence between the accused and the victim. Charged/Suspect-Chargeable questionnaires are completed for all solved homicides even if the accused person dies or commits suicide. Until a homicide is solved, a Charged/Suspect-Chargeable Questionnaire cannot be completed.
In addition to the three main questionnaires of the Homicide Survey, there are two other supplementary questionnaires: the Police Officers Killed Questionnaire and the Correctional Workers Killed Questionnaire. These questionnaires are specifically designed to collect more detailed information on the circumstances surrounding homicides that are related to these occupations.
This survey is a census with a cross-sectional design.
Responding to this survey is mandatory.
Data are collected directly from survey respondents.
When a homicide becomes known to police, the investigating officer completes a Homicide Survey and forwards this information to the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. The information is verified and data captured via the Homicide Survey Capture and Edit System then stored as a relational database.
View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s).
Given that homicides in Canada are a key crime indicator and that there are a relatively small number of incidents each year, the error detection process is very thorough.
Homicide data are verified using a variety of error detection methods. First, each questionnaire is manually reviewed for consistency and completeness. Where erroneous or 'missing' or 'unknown' information is encountered, the investigating police officer (or the designated intermediary representative) of the homicide is contacted for verification. Second, data are entered into the Homicide Survey Capture and Edit System where it is subjected to built-in edits and inter-file edit procedures. Third, information received by the Homicide Survey is compared to the data reported to the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR, record number 3302) Survey which collects less detailed, incident-based and aggregate data on the nature and extent of crime in Canada, including homicide. Verification lists are produced from UCR on a regular basis and compared to those reported to the Homicide Survey to ensure that all homicides have been identified and data captured.
Data are verified by the police forces prior to availability for public dissemination. Once all the homicides have been reported to the Homicide Survey, a final set of verification lists are produced which detail every police force that has reported at least one homicide in the given year. A designated representative from each force is asked to verify that all information is accurate and "sign-off" on their jurisdictional submission. This ensures that the total annual count of homicide incidents, victims and accused persons recorded on the Homicide Database equals the total number of homicide incidents, victims and accused persons known and reported by police departments during that year.
Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any data which would divulge information obtained under the Statistics Act that relates to any identifiable person, business or organization without the prior knowledge or the consent in writing of that person, business or organization. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. Personal identifiers (e.g., name, date of birth, FPS number) or other information that can be used to identify an individual homicide incident are not released. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.
Revisions and seasonal adjustment
The cut-off for submission/revision of previous calendar year data is in April. After that time, the files are "frozen" and no further changes can be made until the following year.
Historical revisions are not made to total counts of incidents or victims. New information pertaining to the detailed information on homicides that have already been data captured is updated annually as is information on accused persons.
Partial aggregate homicide statistics are publicly released, usually in late July. The more detailed aggregate data are released to the public in the Fall of each year.
The Homicide Survey represents a complete count of the number of homicides known and reported by police services in Canada. Homicides are scored according to the year that they are reported by police to the Homicide Survey. In most cases the year in which the homicide occurred is the same as the reporting year; however, because some homicides become known to police long after they occur, there are typically some homicides included in a given year's total that actually occurred in previous years.
- Homicide Survey: Glossary of Terms
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