Figures released recently by Statistics Canada should put to rest the idea that an out-ofcontrol crime wave is sweeping the country.
As in recent years, the numbers show that crime is down - way down - to its lowest point in decades. On the North Shore alone crime rates have dropped about 40 per cent in the past 10 years. Both overall and violent crime is down, as are property offences.
Much of the reason for this is demographic. Young men commit most crime, and because our population is aging, there are fewer of them around. Some of it is police work that targets repeat offenders who are responsible for the lion's share of the problem.
Given all that, the public perception that criminals are running amok should be at last be taking a breather. Unfortunately, public ideas about crime are fuelled by many elements - few of them factual.
We're bombarded by a 24-hour news cycle that never spares the details of horrific events - however far from our own lives they occur. That skews our perceptions, as do the times when we personally experience crime. That's all understandable.
The trouble starts when people's perceptions of crime - rather than crime itself - start to drive our public policy decisions.
That's what's happening now in Canada under our current government. We don't need tougher sentences and more jails to deal with a non-existent crime wave. Our mean streets just ain't that mean anymore.
The public - and the government - need to start recognizing that.