Homicide Survey

Detailed information for 2019

Status:

Active

Frequency:

Annual

Record number:

3315

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 / chargeable suspects since 1961 and all homicides (including murder, manslaughter and infanticide) since 1974.

Data release - October 29, 2020

Description

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 / chargeable suspects 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, 2005, 2015, and 2017. In 2019, the survey went through a comprehensive redesign in order to improve data quality and enhance relevance.

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 1st of the reference year to spring of the year following the reference year

Subjects

  • Crime and justice
  • Crimes and offences
  • Family violence
  • Justice issues
  • Victims and victimization

Data sources and methodology

Target population

Police services report information to the Homicide Survey on all homicides that occur in Canada.

Instrument design

The Homicide Survey is comprised of three main questionnaires: (1) the Incident Questionnaire; (2) the Victim Questionnaire; and (3) the Charged/Suspect-Chargeable (CSC) Questionnaire. The questionnaires were developed and updated 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) as well as the relationship and any history of family violence between the closest accused and the victim are collected.

The Charged/Suspect-Chargeable (CSC) Questionnaire gathers information on the characteristics of the person accused of the homicide. Once a person(s) has been charged or a person against whom enough evidence exists to lay a charge is identified, 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 and previous criminal convictions. Charged/Suspect-Chargeable (CSC) questionnaires are completed for each CSC identified in solved homicides even if the accused person dies. Until a homicide is solved, a Charged/Suspect-Chargeable (CSC) Questionnaire cannot be completed.

In addition to the three main Homicide Survey questionnaires, there are two other supplementary questionnaires: the Supplemental Policing Victim Questionnaire and the Supplemental Correctional Worker Victim Questionnaire. These questionnaires are specifically designed to collect more detailed information on the circumstances surrounding homicides that are related to the victim being employed in these occupations.

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: January 01, 2019 to December 31, 2019

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

When an incident of culpable homicide becomes known to police, the investigating officer completes a set of Homicide Survey questionnaires consisting of at least one Incident questionnaire and one Victim questionnaire.

Once a person has been charged or there is a person against whom charges have been recommended to the Crown by police, a Charged / Suspect-chargeable (CSC) Questionnaire is completed to the survey to update the incident.

The completed questionnaires are sent to Statistics Canada via the Electronic File Transfer Service (EFTS). Once received, the data are extracted from the questionnaires into electronic files for processing. During processing, the data are reviewed for consistency and completeness. Where erroneous, "missing", or "unknown" information is encountered, the investigating police officer (or the designated intermediary representative) of the homicide is contacted for verification. Verification of the submitted information can be completed over the telephone, or by an encrypted worksheet provided to the police service via the Electronic File Transfer Service (EFTS) safe for each police service.

If new information for a previously submitted homicide becomes known, this new information should be sent to Statistics Canada even if it is months or years later.

All information is captured via reference period specific writable pdf questionnaires - English and French questionnaires - sent to the respondents at the start of every collection period and verified through edits in the Social Survey Processing Environment.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s).

Error detection

During processing, data are reviewed for consistency and completeness at both the macro and micro data levels.

Where erroneous, "missing", or "unknown" information is encountered in the data, the investigating police officer (or the designated intermediary representative) of the homicide is contacted for verification.

Imputation

No imputation is done for this survey.

Estimation

This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.

Quality evaluation

To ensure completeness of the database at the macro data level, the Homicide Survey data is compared to the homicide data submitted to the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey as well as homicide information released in the media. The UCR survey collects incident-based and aggregate data on the nature and extent of police-reported crime in Canada, including homicide.

Towards the end of the collection period of the Homicide Survey, a final verification list for each police service is produced. The verification list contains a summary of all incidents submitted for the current reporting period; as well as any questionnaires submitted to update a past cycle (such as a new CSC records for solved cases, or an incident not previously reported to the survey). The primary contact from each police service is asked to verify the list and return a signed Data Approval Form indicating that they have reviewed and approve what has been submitted for their police service. This process ensures the total annual count of homicide incidents, victims, and CSCs reported to Statistics Canada equals the total number of homicide incidents, victims, and CSCs known and reported by police departments during that year.

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. 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 data is in the spring of the calendar year following the reference year. After that time, the files are "frozen" and no further changes will be reflected in that reference year's data.

Revisions to previously submitted data is permitted as is the submission of new information pertaining to previous collection periods including total counts of incidents, victims and accused persons.

Data accuracy

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.

Documentation

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