Costs of Crime in Canada
Crime in Canada cost an estimated $70 billion in 2003, a majority of which, $47 billion or 67%, was borne by the victims. Victim costs include the value of property stolen and/or damaged, pain and suffering, their lost output, and health services. The costs of crime remaining were loosely divided between Criminal Justice System (CJS) expenditures, at $13 billion or 19% of the total, and $10 billion (14%) on defensive measures such as security devices and protective services. CJS costs include costs of police, courts, prosecutions and corrections. When examined by type of crime category, property crimes cost Canadians the most, at $40 billion, while violent crimes cost $18 billion and other crimes $12 billion. While it is rather straightforward to calculate the justice system expenditures and some direct costs such as the value of goods stolen, it is impossible to put an accurate price on the loss of social cohesion in a high-crime community, or the impact on the life of family members of homicide victims, or the suffering of children who grow up with their parents incarcerated. Admittedly, no study has ever been able to fully account for the cost of crime. Nonetheless, it is important to attempt to recognize the magnitude of the cost of crime. The cost of crime highlights the impact of crime on the society and the potential gains from crime prevention and reduction strategies. It is also essential for evidence-based criminal justice policy developments as it provides the needed context to make effective cost-benefit analysis possible. Despite good efforts, it is impossible to include all cost estimates as many are unknown or simply too difficult to attach a dollar figure to them. For that reason, the information provided here is solely for some sense of scope. While the true total cost of crime in Canada may be incalculable, we do know that this updated estimate is a conservative one, as the list of variables included are incomplete.
Contact: Dr. Kuan Li, Research Analyst