The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Disproportionate Harm
Hate Crime in Canada

(3 of 4) Ottawa

The Ottawa Police Service has perhaps the most organized bias crime unit in the country. The unit evolved out of sustained liaison with the community of Ottawa. The experience in Ottawa shows that the police-community partnership is a critical way of responding to the special problems created by hate crimes. The Ottawa Unit is unique in other respects too. As a recent publication notes:

What makes the [Ottawa Carleton Regional Police Bias Crime] Unit different is that there is a legitimate investigative function. In addition, the Unit has an intelligence and educational component. We believe that all three are necessary in order to properly address the concern of bias motivated crimes (Ottawa Police Service, 1994: 1).

The Ottawa Carleton Regional Police Bias Crime Unit was established in January 1993. Modelled on the Boston Police Department's Community Disorders Unit, it reflects a grass- roots approach to the problem hate crimes which stresses the importance of consultation with community groups. The unit is comprised of two investigators and a sergeant. In addition to its investigative function, the Unit is also very active in community education. Members of the Unit deliver lectures to community groups, minority groups as well as the news media.

The Ottawa Police Service submission to the Department of Justice Canada request contains hate crime statistics for a two-year period from January 1993 to December 1994. In 1993, there were 176 hate crime incidents recorded by the Ottawa Police Bias Crime Unit. This rose to 211 in 1994. Over the two-year period covered by the data, there were 387 cases. Consistent with the trends in Toronto and Montreal, Table 12 shows that the most frequent targets of hate crimes in Ottawa were racial minorities, followed by religious groups. Table 13 shows that Blacks are the most frequently targeted racial group. Anti-semitic incidents accounted for almost all (87 percent) of the religious category. Of the 45 incidents directed at individuals on account of their sexual orientation, 93 percent were directed at males, 7 percent at females.

It is clear that the interaction between the nature of the crime and the nature of the target group is replicated in the Ottawa statistics. That is, the vast majority of hate crimes directed against racial minorities involved violence or the threat of violence. Cases of vandalism against this target group accounted for a small percentage of incidents. Anti-semitic hate crimes on the other hand were far more likely to involve mischief or vandalism. Ontario Provincial Police

While it is anticipated that such information may be required in the future, at the present time the O.P.P. have not yet begun to collect hate crime statistics. It is worth noting however that a guidelines exist for the investigation of hate-motivated crime. These guidelines include an explanatory description of hate crimes, along with explicit criteria for identifying hate-motivated incidents. Surete du Quebec

Since hate crimes are concentrated in urban centres (in Canada at least), this organization has no statistical data relating to such offences. City of Halifax Police Department

Collection of statistics relating to hate crimes began in January 1994. The Halifax Police Department has taken steps to ensure that all members of the force are aware of the existence of hate crimes. The Halifax Police Department has appointed a Race Relations Coordinator, with a mandate to raise and promote awareness both in the community and the force itself, of the problem of hate crimes. This police department recorded only three hate crime incidents over the most recent period for which data are available (January to October, 1994). Edmonton Police Service

The Edmonton Police Service has been involved in identifying and collecting statistics on Bias Motivated Crimes since September 1994. Since that time, all members of the force have been trained in responding to incidents of hate-motivated crime. This police service recorded three incidents of hate crimes for the period September to November 1994. Two of these were directed against racial minorities, the third was an incident of anti-semitism. Other Police Agencies

Finally, it is worth noting that some police agencies (such as the Vancouver Police) have a hate crime policy in practice, and also record hate crimes, although they did not participate in the survey which gave rise to this report.

3.2.2 Aggregate Trends

Since there is considerable variability in terms of the targets selected in different parts of the country, Table 15 provides a breakdown of target categories for all reported incidents combined. These percentages are weighted to reflect the different rates of reporting, and do not include the B'nai Brith data or incidents of crimes against gays or lesbians (which will be discussed later in this report). As can be seen, 61 percent of the almost 1,000 hate crime incidents recorded by the police were directed at racial minorities. The next most frequent category was religious groups, (almost all anti-semitic incidents), followed by sexual orientation and ethnic origin. This table also presents a breakdown of hate crime targets from the United States. It is interesting to note that the pattern of victimization is very similar in the two countries: racial minorities account for almost two- thirds of all incidents recorded by the police.

Following analyses used in other countries, it is possible to generate an estimate of the number of hate crimes that occur in Canada on an annual basis. Such an estimate will of course be highly speculative. Nevertheless, using the Ottawa police statistics as a basis, we can perform some extrapolations. There is no reason to suppose that Ottawa has a higher than average incidence of hate crimes. Indeed, the relatively small percentage of non-white residents (compared to Toronto for example) suggests that a broader estimate of the number of hate crimes based on the Ottawa statistics is likely to underestimate the magnitude of the problem.

Since hate crime is largely (although not necessarily exclusively) an urban phenomenon, we shall restrict the analysis to the following major urban centres: Halifax; Montreal; Ottawa; Toronto; Winnipeg; Regina; Calgary; Edmonton, Vancouver. The analysis that follows draws upon recently published crime statistics for these cities (see Hendrick, 1995). The data are drawn from 1994. In that year, the police in Ottawa recorded 211 hate crimes. If we assume a reporting rate of one third, this means that 633 verified (i.e., founded) incidents occurred in that year. Since Ottawa accounts for 7 percent of the total Criminal Code infractions for this group of urban centres, an estimate of the total number of hate crimes committed in these cities would be slightly under 60,000 (59,502). Such an estimate is not out of line with other countries. It will be recalled that it was estimated that there were over 100,000 racially-motivated crimes in the United Kingdom, and this estimate was based on a single form of hate crime. If a lower reporting rate was used in the calculation, the total number of estimated incidents would obviously be higher. The accuracy of an estimate of this kind remains to be verified by future research drawing upon victimization surveys. However accurate it turns out to be, one trend is clear: using police statistics as the sole index of hate crime activity is going to seriously underestimate the magnitude of the problem across the country.

As noted in the introduction, hate crimes are among the most under-reported offences. This means that an examination of hate crimes derived from the criminal justice system (i.e., incidents recorded by the police) would seriously underestimate the prevalence of these incidents, as well as distort the nature of the problem. For this reason, at this point we turn to hate crime statistics derived from two sources outside the criminal justice system. These two sources were selected because they represent the groups most often affected by hate.

The original plaintext version of this file is available via ftp.

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