The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Disproportionate Harm
Hate Crime in Canada

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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 Statistics

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 reasons.

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 <In 1993, police forces across Canada recorded over three million violations of federal or provincial statutes (Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, 1994).>, 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 country.

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 implement.

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. <At the end of the _Act_, the statute provides a reminder to the American public that "the American family life is the foundation of American Society" and that "Nothing in this Act shall be construed, nor shall any funds appropriated to carry out the purpose of this Act be used to promote or encourage homosexuality" (Sec. 2 (a)).>

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