Number of cases in criminal courts down: StatsCan

New data from Statistics Canada reveal a drop in the number of adult criminal court cases and youth cases in 2011-12.

According to the new data, adult criminal courts in Canada completed 386,500 cases in 2011-12, which is down six per cent from the previous year and the lowest it’s been since 2006-07.

The number of Canadian youth cases completed in 2011-12 dropped by 10 per cent from the previous year with a total of approximately 48,000 cases, which is down by almost half the amount of cases recorded in 1991-92 (94,728).

It’s also the third straight year of decline for youth cases and the lowest it’s been since national data were first collected in 1991-92.

Statistics Canada said the long-term drop in the number of youth cases can be attributed to fewer cases involving non-violent crimes. Even still, cases involving theft and break and enter remain the most common, but they too declined by 15 to 17 per cent. Major assault cases also declined by 15 per cent. However, cases involving drug-related crimes increased.

The Northwest Territories had the largest drop in adult criminal cases at 17 per cent, followed by Prince Edward Island at 13 per cent, and Yukon at 10 per cent. Newfoundland and Labrador had the only increase at two per cent and Quebec remained the same.

Cases for impaired driving had the most significant decrease at 15 per cent from 2010-11. Unlawfully at large and drug possession cases increased by two per cent. Impaired driving, theft, common assault, and failure to comply with an order remained the most common types of cases.

The most significant decreases in youth cases occurred in the territories, which ranged from 23 to 36 per cent. Following behind was British Columbia with a 16-per-cent decline, New Brunswick with a 14-per-cent drop, and Ontario with a 12-per-cent decline.

For adult cases, 64 per cent resulted in a finding of guilt, a number that has remained relatively the same over the past decade.

In 15 per cent of youth cases where the accused was found guilty, a custody sentence was handed down, which is down by almost half from the 1990s and early 2000s.

The process involved in youth cases has not sped up. The median length of time to complete a case remained stagnant at 108 days for the third straight year. Adult cases had a small improvement with its median length of time decreasing by two days from the previous year to 117 days.

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