Eurostat database mangles Canada's violent crime statistics

As the old saying goes, there are lies, damned lies, and statistics.  In previous articles, the folly of believing Mexico's official crime data, the World Bank health expenditure datasets, and Russian population estimates has been demonstrated.

We can now add to this list the European Union's crime statistics for Canada in its Eurostat database.

According to this widely used database for assessing crime rates and their associated trends within the EU and compared to other major non-European nations, the number of crimes in Canada declined by more than 90 percent from 2008 (2,194,705 crimes) to 2009 (216,313 crimes).  Clearly this is a typographic error – which has been in the system for some time – that serious users would readily identify, but one wonders how such a widely used database can contain such a gross error for a G7 nation over a long period of time.  Greater quality control efforts are sorely in need at Eurostat.

And then there are the violent crime statistics for Canada in the Eurostat database.  Apparently the number of violent crimes in Canada increased by nearly 50 percent between 2006 and 2007.

Well, no, they didn't.  One can readily head to Statistics Canada's database and determine that the number of violent crimes in Canada actually decreased slightly (by 1.4 percent) between 2006 and 2007.  The data from 2007 onward in Eurostat appears to be fairly close to Statistics Canada's data, but everything before 2007 is simply wrong – by a large degree.

This second suite of errors for violent crimes is more damaging than that for total crimes.  The total crime data is clearly wrong to any rigorous user of the database, but given the large single-year increases in violent crimes that have occurred in some European countries during the last two decades, someone could mistakenly believe the Eurostat data and conclude that Canada's violent crime rate experienced a massive and sustained surge between 2006 and 2007 that coincided with the election of the Conservative Party under Stephen Harper.

Of course, no such increase occurred.  Actually, the violent crime rate in Canada is down significantly under the Harper government.  One can only hope that the EU quickly fixes its crime data to reflect the reality that violent crime rates have been declining in both Canada and the United States over the last couple decades, whereas violent crime is on the increase in much of Europe – undoubtedly because of the EU's socially disruptive immigration policies and economically damaging experiments in radical socialism.