In B.C., the costs of crime associated with poverty are $745 million. This includes direct costs, such as policing and the criminal justice system, as well as intangible costs, such as pain and suffering and loss of life.
People living in poverty are vastly overrepresented in Canada’s prison population, and they are also more likely to be victims of crime. Extreme poverty and financial stress can lead to crimes of desperation and/or living in unsafe situations. Extremely low welfare rates lead people to make harmful “choices,” such as staying with abusive partners, resorting to survival sex (trading sex for shelter, for example), panhandling, and stealing.
Growing up poor is also closely linked to low school achievement and lower literacy rates, and one of the strongest predictors of being incarcerated is low literacy. We all pay for increasing crime in our neighbourhoods, whether it’s through property damage or lower levels of trust and feelings of safety within our communities.
Let’s get to the heart of the problem and reduce poverty in order to decrease crime associated with poverty and desperation.
- The Cost of Poverty in BC (CCPA, July 2011)
- Kids ‘N Crime: Economic Aspects of the Development and Prevention of Criminality among Children and Youth (The Vancouver Board of Trade and the Justice Institute of BC, September 2010)