Violent crimes in Canada in just the year 2009 alone had cost taxpayers a whopping $12.7 billion, a new Justice Canada report said on Sunday.
The expenses ranged from medical care and lost wages to court and social welfare costs. The largest single cost, cornering $4.8 billion of the total, was attributed to sexual assault and other sexual offences. Majority or 90 per cent of victims of these crimes were women.
Completed in December, the new Justice Canada report listed the five types of violent crimes that occurred in 2009 as assault, criminal harassment, homicide, robbery, and sexual assault and other sexual offences, the Canadian Press reported.
In all five types of crimes, it was the victims who shouldered most of the costs at $10.6 billion. "The victims bear the greatest burden of the impacts, much of it intangible, and family, friends and employers can also be burdened," the authors of the study said.
"The impacts are eventually felt by all Canadians in the form of public spending the justice system and social services."
Andrew Gowing, department spokesman, said understanding and being aware of the costs of crime, particularly as they impact victims, can result in more effective and timely crime interventions.
"The work helps program and policy makers understand where the greatest economic impact of crime falls for governments, businesses and those who have experienced violence."
"The knowledge helps to better allocate resources for victims of crime."
But while the report maybe laudable, Holly Johnson, a criminologist and consultant for the study, said what really matters is how government will address it.
"It highlights a big figure and that gets public attention, but unless it leads to action to address the problem, I'm not sure that they've been all that beneficial," Ms Johnson said. Her forte is violence against women.
"We know it's a big problem and now we know it's a big cost - so what are we going to do about it? ... They're doing so little to address it."