Scott Newark's lifetime of experience in the Canadian policing and justice systems has led to his belief that "…instead of being "tough" on crime, it's better to be honest about crime so as to be smart about crime." (page 28, "Why Canadian crime statistics don't add up"). It is a concept that he repeats at every opportunity.

It is the underlying thesis in Newark's review of Juristat's 2009 Report on Police Reported Crime Statistics which MLI published this week. In Why Canadian crime statistics don't add up: Not the whole truth, Newark applied his experience to pose questions as to the relevance and reliability of the data collection, the analysis and reporting associated with the annual Juristat report.

Just as important as the questions, Newark suggests a series of 18 measures that he feels could improve the report as a tool for public policy makers in Canada. Chief among those recommendations are: (a) the need for a Review all crime-related Juristat reports to ensure maximized value (recommendation # 10), and (b) an increase involvement of law enforcement in modernizing the collection, analysis, and reporting of crime statistics in Canada (recommendation #15).

'Not the whole truth' has generated considerable comment since its publication. Some favourable and some questioning. That is to be expected. As Newark wrote, "Crime is a complicated topic and there are few easy answers. But, without proper information we cannot even ask the right questions. On this central question of the state's duty to protect its citizens from crime, Canadians are not as well served as they should be."

Newark's and MLI's desire to bring real debate to an issue that is far too often just a part of daily political posturing is happening. Yesterday, the author spent most of his waking hours doing interviews with print and broadcast journalists across the country. One such engagement was on Prime Time Politics with Peter Van Dusen on the Cable Public Affairs Channel (CPAC).

Mr. Newark appeared as part of a discussion with Ronald-Frans Melchers, a University of Ottawa criminology professor who serves on the Academic Advisory Committee at Statistics Canada. They had a lively discussion and, while there were points of divergence of opinion between the two, there were also areas of absolute agreement.

On the key issue noted above, for instance, Mr. Melchers asserted at the very outset, "Let me just say that there is one thing that I very strongly agree with Scott on and that is the issue that we are not getting the amount of information and the quality of information that we need to be able to deal with crime as a policy issue."

You can watch the entire CPAC exchange here… (starting around the 12:45 mark)

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