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Shofar FTP Archive File: orgs/canadian/canada/justice/disproportionate-harm/dh-004-02

Archive/File: orgs/canadian/canada/justice/disproportionate-harm/dh-000-02
Last-Modified: 1997/01/12
Source: Department of Justice Canada

4.3.2 Duplication

It might also be argued that a national data-collection
initiative is unnecessary so long as good data are available
at the local level. The positive experience in  Ottawa, for
example, demonstrates that good data can be collected at the
local level, for what are essentially local purposes. While
this is true, it overlooks the important  symbolic utility
of a national data-collection exercise. As well, even if all
urban police forces were to collect hate crime statistics in
as comprehensive a fashion as the  Ottawa, Montreal and
Toronto forces, the problem of inconsistency of definition
would  remain, and comparisons of rates between various
Canadian cities would be  impossible.

To summarize, there appear to be more arguments in favour of
than opposed some form of national data collection strategy.

At this point the ways in which such a strategy may be
implemented is investigated.

4.4 National Integration of Hate Crime Statistics

For the reasons outlined earlier in this report, it seems
clear that we need a better idea of the true nature and
extent of hate crimes in Canada. There are several steps
that could be taken; some possibilities are outlined below.

4.4.1 Encourage Different Groups to Collect Their Own

The simplest yet least effective way to increase the
comprehensiveness of hate crime statistics would be to
encourage various minority groups to conduct an exercise
similar to that of the B'nai Brith, namely to create and
maintain an inventory of hate crime incidents. In fact,
several religious, gay and lesbian groups in the United
States have been collecting their own statistics for years.
However, there are several deficiencies associated with this
suggestion. First, it is unlikely that all groups that are
the target of hate crimes will have the resources and the
experience to match the B'nai Brith effort in this regard.
As noted earlier, the Montreal organization representing the
gay and lesbian community did not have sufficient resources
to continue their datagathering activities. Second,
different groups are likely to adopt variable definitions of
what constitutes a hate or bias crime. As noted earlier,
police forces across the country use different definitions,
and the variability is likely to be even greater for
advocacy groups. Third, with each special interest group
recording only those incidents directed at members of its
constituency, no comprehensive picture can emerge. The final
reason why the collection of such statistics should not be
left to these private organizations is that statistics
collected in this way do not have the same credibility and
impact as data routinely collected by a government agency.

4.4.2 Special Studies Approach

A second way of obtaining national, standardized data on
hate or bias crimes would involve the Canadian Centre for
Justice Statistics conducting periodic "sweeps" of the
country within the aegis of its "Special Study" initiative.
This would permit the collection (albeit periodic) of data
without necessitating changes to any of the current surveys,
such as the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey. I have argued
elsewhere (Roberts, 1994b) that the Special Studies approach
is the best way of collecting information on the racial or
ethnic origin of the suspect. For hate crimes, however, this
is not in my view the best path to take, for several

Unlike race-crime statistics, there is no potential danger
associated with adding elements to the UCR survey. As well,
since hate crimes represent a very small percentage of
incidents ,
the additional burden to police forces would be minimal. For
the vast majority of crimes recorded, the police officer
would simply leave the hate crime questions blank. The
experience in the United States is instructive here. Shortly
after eight states began collecting hate crime statistics,
research indicated that no significant increase in costs was
observed. Second, special studies often take a considerable
amount of time and consensus to be approved. There is the
danger that the media interest which currently surrounds
hate crimes (see for example, Macleans, 1995) will
dissipate, and the momentum for further action will be lost.

4.4.3 Modifying the Revised Uniform Crime Reporting System

The most effective way to achieve standardization and
national data involves adding some data elements to the
Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) System. The revised UCR
contains a great deal more information about the crime
incident, the suspect and the victim than its predecessor,
the aggregate UCR. According to the Statistics Act, Revised
Statutes of Canada, C. Sl 9, the objective of the incident-
based UCR is to collect essential incident-based information
on the nature and extent of crime in Canada. The incident-
based UCR provides information for policy and legislative
development, evaluation of new legislative development and
international comparisons. The database is also used by the
news media, academics and researchers. Incorporating some
data elements relating to the motivation of the crime would
be consistent with all these objectives.

Although the idea of adding data elements relating to hate
motivation is straightforward enough, changing the current
data elements would require several steps, and would not be
a simple undertaking. First, a federal-provincial
consultation would be required, the results of which would
be provided to the Judicial Information Council (JIC). A
critical issue that would have to be resolved relates to the
creation of new offences. If new hate crime offences were
added to the Criminal Code, modification of the UCR would
take a somewhat different route. Second, a consultation with
police forces across the country, including the Canadian
Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) would be necessary.
Clearly, if the incident-based UCR is to be amended, it will
have to benefit from the input and co-operation of police
officers across the country. Third, there would have to be a
consultation with affected community groups across the

Fourth, there will have to be several changes to the Uniform
Crime Reporting Manual (Canadian Centre for Justice
Statistics, 1984). This is the document which reflects
police scoring practices and guides officers across the
country. The changes would include information about the
definition of a hate or bias crime. This means of course
that the issue of definition which was explored earlier in
this report would have to be resolved. Finally, the Canadian
Cenke for Justice Statistics would have to be supportive of,
and heavily implicated in, any revision to the UCR. Part of
the Centre's activities would consist of a thorough pre-test
of any revised UCR form, and this too would take time.

To summarize, modifying the UCR to make it responsive to new
hate crimes,  or the question of hate motivation is probably
the most effective way to generate comprehensive hate crime
statistics. However, such a reform would require many steps,
protracted consultation involving various stake-holder
groups, and would take a considerable amount of time to

A private member's Bill introduced in the Canadian
Parliament in 1993 calls for the systematic collection of
national statistics on hate crimes. This Bill reflects the
views of diverse special interest groups that have called
for better statistical information. The proposed Bill is
modeled upon an American Bill introduced a few years
earlier. Before reviewing the Canadian proposal, it is worth
examining the American proposal in more detail, as it
provides a model statute that may of be use to Canada.

4.5 United States _Hate Crime Statistics Act_

In 1990, the United States Congress passed the Hate Crime
Statistics Act (United States Statutes at Large, 1991;
hereafter Act; see Appendix B of this report for the full
text -- similar Bills exist at the state level - see for
example, Berk, 1990). The purpose of this piece of
legislation was to ensure that hate crime statistics are
collected across America. Prior to the passage of this Act,
there were no national criminal justice statistics on the
incidence of hate-motivated crimes in the United States. The
only source of information was private organizations such as
the AntiDefamation League's annual audit of anti-semitic
incidents and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy
Institute which documents acts of crimes against the gay
communities in major American cities. Thus, there are clear
parallels between the situation in America prior to the Hate
Crimes Statistics Act, and Canada today.

There are several components to the Act. First, while data
are required on an annual basis, there is a five-year limit
on the reporting requirement. Thus, the idea is to acquire a
significant body of data on the issue of hate crimes, rather
than to collect these data on a permanent basis. Second, the
definition of a hate crime is broad, and does not require
the exclusive motivation stmdard required in some other
jurisdictions The Act simply speaks of "crimes that manifest
evidence of rej ice' . The prejudice must be based on "race,
religion, sexual orientation or ethnicity". Third, there is
a list both of target groups, amd more umusually, also cr
es. The es idenbfied in the statute are: "murder; non-
negligent manslaughter; forcible rape; aggravated assault;
simple assault; intimidation; arson; and, destruction,
damage or vandalism of property".

In addition, there is a statutory requirement for the
Attorney Generai to establish guidelines for the collection
of such data, including the necessary evidentiary criteria
that must be met before an incident is classified as a hate
or bias crime. As well, the statute prohibits the use of
these data for anything other than legitimate research or
statistical purposes, and the data must be purged of any
information that c Id possibly reveal the id ity of an d d
al cnme vi . Finally, the sensitivity of the sexual
orientation provision is also apparent from a coda that is
appended to the statute. 

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