Volume 95, Issue 36
Tuesday, November 6, 2001
Gang murders up 63 percent
Quarter of all Toronto killings gang-related
By Joel Brown
Fewer spouses are resorting to killing each other while gang-related murders are on the rise, according to a recent Statistics Canada study.
One out of eight killings in Canada during 2000 were deemed to be gang-related, the report indicates. That total rose 63 per cent from 1999.
Since 1995, the number of gang-related homicides has tripled, from 21 to 71 cases. Fifty-three percent of last year's cases took place in Quebec. One out of every four homicides in Toronto were gang-related.
Gang-related violence has traditionally not been a major concern in the London area, said Const. Ryan Holland of the London Police Force.
"We don't really have a lot of problems with gangs," he said. "Whether it's coming or not, considering urbanization trends, I don't know."
Recent media attention paid to bioterrorism and terrorism in general has not distracted police officers from crimes closer to home, like gang violence or spousal homicide.
"The focus has shifted in the public eye as a result of media coverage, but it hasn't affected our investigations," Const. Holland said.
The spousal homicide rate continued to drop, a trend that has been occurring since 1991.
In 2000, 67 individuals were killed by their spouse, down from an average of 88 victims over the previous ten years.
Peter Chimbos, a Brescia College sociology professor, said the trend may be a result of a change in women's attitudes.
"It seems more likely that women are willing to get away from abusive husbands," he said, adding this may be a result of increased financial independence.
Chimbos said spousal homicide may also be down as a result of changing age demographics. Young people the age group most likely to commit murder according to the study are shrinking in numbers and less likely to get married, Chimbos explained.
London ranked third in homicide rate among midsize Canadian cities (populations between 250,000 - 499,999).
There were 542 homicides in Canada in 2000, four more than in 1999.
One-third of all solved homicides were committed by a family member, one-half by an acquaintance or associate and the remaining 17 per cent by a stranger.
There were 41 youths (under 17-years-old) accused of committing homicide, four fewer than in 1999 and 11 fewer than the average over the past decade.
with files from Kristina Lundblad
Copyright © The Gazette 2001