Youth Court Survey (YCS)

Detailed information for 2005-2006





Record number:


The objective of the Youth Court Survey (YCS) is to develop and maintain a database of statistical information on appearances, charges, and cases in youth courts.

Data release - October 23, 2007


The objective of the Youth Court Survey (YCS) is to develop and maintain a database of statistical information on appearances, charges, and cases in youth courts. The survey is intended to be a census of federal statute charges heard in provincial courts in Canada. It includes information on the age and sex of the accused, case decision patterns, sentencing information regarding the length of prison and probation, and amount of fine, as well as case-processing data such as case elapsed time. These data on federal statute charges heard in youth courts in the reference period are collected by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (CCJS) in collaboration with provincial and territorial government departments responsible for youth courts. 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 how youth are dealt with by youth courts in Canada.

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 NJSI. 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)

Collection period: June of the reference year to July of the year following the reference year


  • Children and youth
  • Civil courts and family law
  • Crime and justice
  • Crime and justice (youth)
  • Criminal courts

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The objective of the Youth Court Survey (YCS) is to develop and maintain a national criminal court database of statistical information on appearances, charges, and cases for youths appearing in court. The survey is intended to be a census of federal statute charges heard in youth courts in Canada.

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

Instrument design

Data collection tools and data requirements were developed with the assistance of representatives from provincial and territorial departments responsible for youth 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.


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: 2005-06-01 to 2006-07-31

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are extracted from administrative files.

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.

Data are provided to the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (CCJS) via an interface software which selects the in-scope information from the automated court operational systems or information management systems in the provinces/territories. The records are structured according to either the YCS record layout or the Integrated Criminal Court Survey (ICCS) record layout and sent to CCJS for processing. (The ICCS collects data for both the YCS and the Adult Criminal Court Survey (ACCS, see record number 3312), thus eliminating the need for two interfaces).

Prior to 2005/06, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories provided data via manual forms. Photocopies of court documents with survey relevant information (e.g., information, Endorsement of Proceedings, etc.) were made and sent to CCJS. These documents were edited for completeness, accuracy and consistency. The information required for the survey was then data captured into electronic format. All provinces and territories including Manitoba and the Northwest Territories now provide data electronically.

Error detection

The YCS central processing system contains an automated edit module that examines all incoming data for format, logic and consistency. Field values that do not meet specifications or are out of range are deemed to be 'not available' and are re-coded accordingly such that processing may continue.

Also, system error may be introduced during the extraction and transcription of provincial or territorial data into YCS format. The YCS has attempted to minimize this source of error by implementing a standard interface development methodology that requires a complete testing of the software by both the YCS and the province/territory prior to implementation.


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.


This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.

Quality evaluation

Data assessment activities are undertaken by both the provinces/territories and the YCS 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. The results of the data assessment process permit the identification of most types of errors occurring at all stages of data flow.

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 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. 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.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

This methodology does not apply to this survey.

Data accuracy

While all provinces and territories report to the YCS, it is suspected that there is some under-coverage but the extent of this under-coverage is not known. Undercoverage may occur as a result of delayed data entry of charges and related information into court information systems (i.e., some information may be entered into the systems after data have already been transmitted to CCJS). No estimation procedures have been developed to adjust the published data. Internal controls make it possible to identify those courts that have not reported at all but it is not possible, without an audit of court files, to determine whether reporting courts have reported 100% of the charges adjudicated.

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