Immigration climbing and crime falling in Regina

Blog, Immigration, Steve Lafleur

The Leader-Post reported today that there were 1000 less criminal offenses committed during the first six months of this year compared to the same period last year. Violent crime is down 10%, and property crime has dropped by 14%. Despite the fact that Regina has the highest crime rate in the country, crime has been dropping since 1991.

The declining crime rate is especially interesting given that immigration to the city is at its highest level in recent memory. Only 668 immigrants came to Regina in 2000. In 2010, that number was 2567. Many opponents of immigration believe that taking in more immigrants leads to more crime. The number suggest otherwise.

While the decline likely has very little to do with immigration at all, there are a couple of ways that it may be making modest contributions to crime reduction.

First, immigrants are statistically less likely to commit crimes than non-immigrants. This is true both of immigrants to Canada, and immigrants to the United States. So statistically, immigrants should water down the crime rate.

Second, more people on the streets make it harder for criminals to operate. As Jane Jacobs pointed out long ago, having ‘eyes on the street’ keeps neighbourhoods safe. Since downtown Regina is pretty sparsely populated, increasing the number of people who frequent downtown is bound to make some criminals think twice before breaking the law.

But even if those two factors have had a negligible impact on crime statistics, the coincidence of a declining crime rate and increased immigration helps to demonstrate that the old stereotype about immigration causing crime is just plain wrong.