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The Canadian Press

Homicide rate drops in 2007, StatsCan reports

The Canadian Press, OTTAWA, Oct. 23, 2008

Police reported 594 homicides in Canada in 2007, 12 fewer than in 2006.

Statistics Canada reports that stabbings accounted for a third of the homicides last year and another third involved the use of a firearm.

The agency says handguns were used in two-thirds of all firearm homicides, primarily in urban areas, while police reported that one in five homicides were gang-related.

Canada's homicide rate has been on a general downward trend since the mid-1970s and last year it declined another three per cent.

StatsCan reports there were 190 stabbings and 188 shootings last year.

Handguns were used in two-thirds of all firearm homicides, up from about a quarter 20 years ago.

Within the nation's metropolitan areas, however, 81 per cent of all firearm-related homicides were committed with a handgun in 2007, compared with 29 per cent in the rest of Canada.

After reaching an all-time high in 2006, the rate of youth accused of homicide dropped in 2007. There were 74 youth accused of homicide, 11 fewer than in 2006 but still the second highest youth homicide rate since data were first collected in 1961.

More than 80 per cent of homicides solved last year were committed by someone known to the victim.

Male homicide victims were most likely to be killed by an acquaintance, someone known to them through a criminal relationship, or a stranger. Female homicide victims were most frequently killed by a current or former intimate partner, or another family member.

Manitoba reported the highest homicide rate among the provinces, followed by Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador continued to report the lowest rates.

Manitoba police reported 62 homicides, 23 more than in 2006, its highest rate since data were first available in 1961.

Saskatoon reported the highest homicide rate of all cities, at 3.6 homicides per 100,000 population. Toronto police reported 111 homicides in 2007, almost a fifth of the national total.