State of the Criminal Justice System - 2019 Report


The Department of Justice Canada developed the first performance monitoring framework for the Canadian CJS so it could identify and address data gaps and make information on CJS performance easier to access. This first edition of the annual report presents data on indicators so readers can identify the strengthsFootnote 57 of the CJS’ performance and areas where it can improve. The Dashboard brings together information from multiple data sources in an accessible web application so Canadians can easily access data and information about the CJS.

The research findings and trends highlighted herein speak to the current state of the CJS including strengths and areas in need of improvement. These include:

  • Most Canadians feel safe from crime. Most crime in Canada is non-violent. Crime has increased slightly in the last few years, but remains lower than a decade ago. Homicide has increased and is attributable to firearm and gang-related homicides. Three-quarters of people accused of crime are male. Most crime is committed by youth and young adults (ages 12-24).
  • Between one-half and two-thirds of Canadians feel the CJS is fair and accessible. Most Canadians understand the CJS and are most familiar with police (compared to courts and correctional services). Most Canadians are confident in the police and courts. About two-thirds of victims who reported an incident to police are satisfied with the actions taken by police.
  • It takes about five months to process a case in adult criminal court. Administration of justice offences represent about one-quarter of cases in adult criminal court. There are more people in provincial/territorial pre-trial custody/remand than sentenced custody and this trend has been consistent for the past decade.
  • Indigenous people have higher victimization rates, including being victims of homicide. They are also overrepresented in custody. Certain marginalized and vulnerable populations have higher victimization rates, for example, those with mental health disorders and those without housing.

The results from this work highlight the need to invest in data collection and public reporting to increase what we know about the CJS, especially data on victims and survivors of crime and how the CJS interacts with other social systems. The Framework improves our current understanding of the state of the CJS and provides a clear roadmap of where the Department needs strong and reliable data and regular reporting overall so it can respond appropriately, intervene on these issues, and contribute to evidence-based policy. Better data would also improve our current understanding and provide a clear roadmap of where the Department could increase investments, programs, and resources, and where it could focus policy and/or legislative change.

With input from partners, stakeholders, experts, and other Canadians, the Department developed Canada’s first national performance monitoring framework for the Canadian CJS. This report serves as a benchmark and the Department will continue to consult with partners and data holders to fill data gaps and develop other population-based themes, such as women and youth. The interactive online Dashboard promotes transparency and open government efforts to make information on the CJS easier to access. Addressing these data gaps improve our ability to make decisions driven by data and evidence, which will have a positive effect on the lives of Canadians.

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