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The Montreal Police Report On 2021 Shows An Increase In Violent Crime

The SPVM counted 36 homicides in 2021 compared to 25 in 2020.

Montreal police officer on a motorcycle with a crowd in the background.

Montreal police officer on a motorcycle with a crowd in the background.

The SPVM has published its annual report, noting 2,365 reports of sexual assault and 14,233 reports of other assaults in 2021 — 32.2% and 22.6% higher, respectively, than the five-year average. The Montreal police force counted 36 homicides in 2021, compared to 25 in 2020.

It also tallied 2,102 aggravated thefts, a number higher than that in 2020 (1,983) but 14.5% lower than the five-year average.

In total, the SPVM counted 25,129 instances of violent crime in 2021, up from 22,984 in 2020 and 17.3% higher than the five-year average.

There were more reports of incidents involving gunfire

Reports of incidents involving gunfire (excluding homicides and attempted murders) totalled 144 in 2021, more than double the 2020 number (71). Nineteen homicides involved firearms, up from six in 2020.

The SPVM said the increase in recorded incidents involving firearm discharges could be due to a 30% increase between 2020 and 2021 in calls from residents concerning gunshots.

The SPVM credits its community outreach work for the apparently increased likelihood that the public would contact the police about gunshots. But Concordia Professor Ted Rutland, who studies urban politics and policing in Canada, theorizes that some Montrealers are misinterpreting other loud sounds due to the influence of widespread media coverage of gun crime in the city.

Are more officers really the answer to an increase in violent crime?

Although even before the publication of the 2021 report, some had been pushing the city to hire additional officers, Rutland argues that more police aren't the solution to an increase in violent crime.

"We have the largest police force per capita in Canada, and we've increased funding and personnel to the police in the last year and a half. So if we're doing that and we're seeing violent crime increase, that should tell us that there are some other things that we aren't doing," he told MTL Blog.

"Unfortunately, we've had a lot of attention to violent crime in Montreal in the last two years, but that hasn't resulted in the city doing what needs to be done to address violence, which is mostly targeted community programs that are well-funded."

Other notable figures in the SPVM’s 2021 report

The number of reported motor vehicle thefts in 2021 (6,527) was 43.9% higher than the five-year average.

Reported break-ins in 2021 (5,072) were down 35.7% compared to the five-year average, reports of so-called "simple thefts" (19,473) were down 17.1%, and reported misdemeanours (5,797) were down 12.4%.

There were 100 reported hate crimes targeting national or ethnic origin or race in 2021, down 33 from 2020.

The SPVM also gave out 15,800 tickets related to COVID-19 measures.

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