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Group Crime in Canada

NCJ Number
Canadian Journal of Criminology Volume: 44 Issue: 3 Dated: July 2002 Pages: 277-315
Peter J. Carrington
Date Published
July 2002
39 pages
This article provides a profile of crime committed by groups in Canada in the 1990's.
Groups rather than lone offenders commit the majority of common crime. Very little is known about group crime in Canada. This approach alternates between incident-based and offender-based analyses of group crime. The study relied on data from the Revised (Incident-Based) UCR Survey (UCR2), which come from police occurrence reports. The UCR2 captures data such as age and gender of each offender, the nature and circumstances of the incident, and the type of offense. Results show that, according to these data, youth crime in Canada is not primarily a group phenomenon. Only 44 percent of offenders had identified accomplices in incidents implicating exclusively children and young offenders. Only 57 percent had accomplices in incidents involving exclusively children under 12 years of age. Group crime involving adults is even less common; 20 percent had accomplices while 7 percent worked in groups of three or more. Overall, 24 percent of offenders offended with identified accomplices. Thus, children and young offenders were much more likely than adults to offend with accomplices. Group crime committed exclusively by young people or children was relatively rare. In almost two-thirds of incidents involving two or more co-offenders, at least one was an adult. Youth crime committed in groups of three or more constituted only 1.2 percent of all recorded incidents in this sample. The mean number of co-offenders in the group decreased as the age of the oldest co-offender increased. There was very little gender difference in the incidence of lone offending, although pair offending was somewhat more common among females, and offending in groups of three or more was slightly more common among males. For every category of offense, the great majority of incidents involved a lone offender. The great majority of incidents involving exclusively children and young offenders involved a lone offender. The most serious crimes were more likely to be committed by groups. 4 figures, 5 tables, appendix, 18 notes, 40 references


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