New Statistics Canada study finds dramatic increase over the past decade, validating concerns expressed by peace officers.
Ottawa (29 Oct. 2009) - The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is expressing concern about the alarming incidence of assaults against peace officers.
A report by Statistics Canada says police reported almost 10,000 assaults against peace officers in 2008. Almost 70% of these occurred in conjunction with at least one other offence, most commonly obstruction of a peace officer, level one assault or uttering threats. The large majority of these assaults were committed without a weapon.
Peace officers includes police, correctional officers, sheriffs, bailiffs and other enforcement officers.
The level of assaults is up sharply in most areas. The change in the rate of assault (per 100,000 population) was highest in Nova Scotia (up 168.3%). It also rose 101.3% in the Northwest Territories and 92.1% in Newfoundland and Labrador. The rate dropped in only one province, Prince Edward Island, where it was down 25.7%.
One notable statistic involved the city of Halifax where the rate of assaults against peace officers was four times higher than 10 years ago.
Among the provinces, the highest rates for serious assaults – and assaults against peace officers – occurred in Saskatchewan. The lowest rates occurred in Prince Edward Island.
One of the most notable statistics concerned assaults involving young people.
"Youth accused of assault against a peace officer increased by 52%, seven times higher than that for adults (7%)," StatsCan reports.
"These figures reinforce what we have been hearing from our members all along," says James Clancy, NUPGE's national president. "We have been expressing our concerns about rising rates of violence against peace officers for the past decade."
Clancy says this should include expanded measures to protect peace officers.
"Number one is the need for more staff in our justice system. Our members are telling us that they are increasingly vulnerable as the system is overcrowded and understaffed," he argues. "We also need improved training and supports for these workers."
While the conviction rates for adult and youth charged with assaults against peace officers in 2006/2007 were higher than those for other serious assaults the sentences tended to be less severe.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE
• Police-reported assaults against peace officers
• Trends in police-reported serious assaults