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Shofar FTP Archive File: orgs/canadian/canada/justice/disproportionate-harm/dh-003-02

Archive/File: orgs/canadian/canada/justice/disproportionate-harm/dh-003-02
Last-Modified: 1997/01/14
Source: Department of Justice Canada Toronto

The Metropolitan Toronto Police Force began to
systematically collect data on  hate crimes in January 1993.
This activity is part of an extensive hate crime initiative
which reaches into the community. In addition to its
investigative activities, the Hate  Crime Unit also
participates in public education in the area. For example,
hate crime  and hate propaganda posters and pamphlets have
been developed and distributed to  schools in the Toronto
area. Members of the Hate Crime Unit also receive additional
training. One benefit of the statistical data collected to
date is that the Hate Crime  Unit has initiated
consultations with educators, community groups as well as
other  police officers in order to establish additional
partnerships aimed at preventing and  responding to crimes
motivated by hate or bias. Since data for the whole of 1994
were not available at the time this report was written, most
of the Toronto data  discussed here come from 1993.

Table 7 provides a breakdown of hate crimes as a function of
the nature of the  group targeted. As can be seen, racial
minorities account for the greatest percentage of  incidents
(50 percent), followed by religious groups (35 percent),
sexual orientation  (10 percent) and then
ethnicity/nationality (5 percent). It should be noted that
this   breakdown may well reflect differential willingness
to turn to the criminal justice system. If, as the research
literature in other countries suggests, gay individuals are
less likely to report crimes to the police, these statistics
may under-represent the threat to the gay community,
relative to other minorities, racial or otherwise.

Additional information was provided by the Toronto Police
Service regarding  the nature of the targets within specific
target groups. Almost half (48 percent) of the  racial
incidents were directed against black individuals. The next
most frequently  targeted groups were East Indians (22
percent of incidents) and Asians (8 percent).  Thirteen
percent of the incidents were classified as multi-bias
incidents and 8 percent were hate crimes directed at white
targets. Turning to the classification of crimes in  terms
of ethnicity rather than race, it is clear that no
particular ethnic group was  targeted more frequently than
any other. Almost all (94 percent) of the sexual orientation
hate crimes were directed at gay males rather than lesbians.
Not surprisingly, in light of the data from other sources,
the vast majority of religious hate  crimes (89 percent)
were anti-semitic in nature.

Table 8 presents a breakdown of the Toronto police data
according to offence  category. Mischief (over and under
combined) accounts for 39 percent of incidents recorded by
the police. Assault is the next most frequent category,
accounting for one incident in four.

The data from Toronto also show that personal injury
offences are more likely to be directed to racial
minorities, as the following statistics for the two most
frequent  offence categories reveal. Of the assault reports,
over three-quarters (77 percent) were directed at racial
groups. Religious groups were more likely to be the victims
of property crimes: almost a third of mischief offences were
directed at religious groups, but only seven percent of the
assaults were directed at this target category (see Table 9).

The Toronto data are also useful because they provide some
insight into the typical offender. The majority of the
offenders arrested for a hate crime were young  males under
20 years of age. Most were first offenders. These findings
are consistent  with research conducted in other
jurisdictions. Thus Levin and McDevitt (1993) report that in
New York City, the median age of hate crime offenders was
18, almost 10  years younger than the median for offenders
in general. In Sweden, most hate crime offenders were under
twenty at the time of the commission of the offence (see
Loow, 1995).

Data from the first six months of 1994 show a modest
increase in the proportion of all hate crimes directed at
racial groups (50 to 58 percent) with a  corresponding
decline in the amount of hate crime involving religious
groups. This is worth noting because it means there has been
an increase in the proportion of hate crimes involving
offences against the person, since racial hate crimes are
far more likely to involve violence (than are hate crimes
directed at religious targets - see  below).

The data from the first half of 1994 are also noteworthy
because they suggest  an increase in the absolute level of
hate crime activity in the city of Toronto. A total   of 112
occurrences were recorded in this period. This is a 55
percent increase in  reported hate crime incidents over the
preceding year. However, it is important to  point out that
as with changes in other crime trends, this increase could
also reflect an increased  willingness to report such
incidents to the criminal justice system. The  police appear
to attribute the increase to greater public confidence in
the Metropolitan  Toronto  Force. 

It seems more likely that the increase reflects a genuine
increase in the number of hate crimes as  well as a shift in
the mix of offences. The trend observed in the police
statistics confirms what was  noted in the B'nai Brith data
from the same year  (see later section of this report).
Since the B'nai Brith data are independent of the police and
are  unaffected by public expectations of the criminal
justice response, this suggests a genuine  increase in
offending. As for the offence mix, it is clear that there
has been an increase in the proportion of hate crimes that
involve violence, and personal injury  offences are more
likely to be reported to the police than crimes  involving
property. This would  have the effect of inflating the
statistics. Police de la Communaute urbaine de Montreal

This police service began collecting data on anti-semitic
incidents in 1988. In 1990,  racially-motivated crimes were
added and this was followed in 1992 by the  creation of a
computerized database, to which officers were required to
submit reports.  The hate  crime initiative was formally
created in 1994, and comprehensive reports on  hate crime
activity are now released on a regular basis (three times a
year). As well,  an annual report is published. In addition
to the collection of systematic statistics and  the
prosecution of hate crimes, individuals from the Montreal
force also participate in  conferences and workshops on the
subject of responding to hate crimes. For the  purposes of
the present report, findings derive from the period January
1, 1994 to  December 31,  1994. In this period there were
199 incidents of hate-motivated crimes  in the Montreal
community that were recorded by the police. Of these, the
vast  majority (79 percent) were directed at racial
minorities: no other target category accounted for  more
than nine percent of the incidents recorded (see Table 10).

Overall, two-thirds of the hate crime incidents recorded in
Montreal in 1994  involved crimes against the person, with
the remaining one-third classified as property crimes. A
more detailed offence breakdown is provided in Table l l. As
can be seen,  assault was the offence which accounted for
the greatest percentage of reports (34  percent).

An interesting interaction exists between the nature of the
crime and the particular group targeted. Hate crimes
directed against gays are significantly more  likely to
involve violence. Thus almost nine out of ten hate crimes
against gay targets involve violence, while only 30 percent
of anti-semitic hate crimes involved a crime  against the
person. Anti-black hate crimes fell between these two
extremes: 69 percent  of hate crime incidents were crimes
against the person. The 1994 annual report  concludes from
this that the anti-sem tic incidents are the work of racist
organizations, while the other two categories are more
likely to be accounted for by individual acts  of racial

Since 1994 was the first year of full collection of
comprehensive data,  historical comparisons are problematic.
However, examination of the anti-semitic  statistics show a
relatively stable pattern over the period 1988 to 1992, with
a significant increase over the last two years for which
such statistics are available  (1992-1994). It is not clear
what is responsible for this recent increase, although it
seems consistent with increases elsewhere. The final
observation about the Montreal data is that several
districts have particularly high rates of hate crime
incidents. Thus while two-thirds of the districts have
relatively uniform rates, five districts report numbers of
incidents up to five times in excess of the area average.

Data from the Montreal police also provide information on
the criminal justice outcome in hate crime incidents. A
criminal charge was laid in 17 percent of the 198 <15
Charges were laid against 33 accused out of a total of 190
incidents (8 incidents were  declared "unfounded").>
incidents reported. While this may seem like a small
percentage, two considerations should be borne in mind.
First, a significant number of hate crimes are directed
against property, and a criminal charge is laid in only a
small percentage of  property crimes recorded by the police.
For example, in 1993 (the most recent year for which data
are available), the "cleared by charge" statistic for Canada
(aggregated across offences) was 16 percent (Canadian Center
for Justice Statistics, 1994). Second, it is clear from
research in other jurisdictions that hate crimes are
notoriously hard to clear by the laying of a charge. A
charge rate for hate crimes that is slightly higher  than
the average rate of charging shows the additional effort
that police agencies have directed to this form of

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