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- The clearance rate represents the proportion of reported criminal incidents that are solved by the police. For an incident to be cleared, an accused person must be identified and there must be sufficient evidence for the police to lay or recommend a charge. Clearance rates are just one of many measures of police performance.
- This report shows that overall police clearance rates have been steadily increasing in Canada since 2003. This time period coincides with decreasing crime rates as well as increasing numbers of police officers per capita (police strength).
- While overall clearance rates have been increasing, homicide clearance rates have generally been declining over the past 50 years. Homicide clearance rates have dropped from around 95% in the mid-1960s to about 75% in 2010.
- Clearance rates vary by type of crime. Generally, violent crimes have much higher clearance rates than property crimes. In 2010, about three-quarters of violent crimes were solved by police compared to about one-quarter of property crimes.
- Three-quarters of homicides were cleared by police in 2010, similar to attempted murders, assaults and criminal harassment incidents. Clearance rates for sexual assaults (64%) and robberies (40%) were somewhat lower. By comparison, only about 1 in 6 break-ins and 1 in 7 motor vehicle thefts were cleared in 2010.
- Clearance rates also vary across the country. Among the provinces, the highest clearance rates were reported in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, while the lowest were reported in British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador. As well, clearance rates were found to be higher in smaller communities than in larger communities.
- Police can clear an incident by charge or by means other than the laying of a charge. Examples of this latter category include departmental policy, departmental discretion, referral of the accused to a diversion program, or death of the accused.
- In 2010, about twice as many violent crimes were cleared by charge as were cleared by other means. In contrast, property crimes were equally likely to be cleared by charge as to be cleared by other means.
- Victimization surveys ask Canadians about their perceptions of safety as well as their satisfaction with their local police. The latest victimization survey data for 2009 shows that Canadians generally have positive perceptions of the police in their communities, as well as overall satisfaction with their personal safety from crime.