Why is crime so high in Winnipeg

Why is crime so high in Winnipeg?

Winnipeg is facing a growing problem of crime. The city has been consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous cities in Canada, with high levels of property crime and violent crime. 

In recent years, the problem has become more pronounced, leading people to question why crime is so high in Winnipeg. 

Some contributing factors are poverty, population, substance abuse, street gangs, and the limited police force. 

In this article, we will examine the mentioned factors that contribute to the high level of crime in Winnipeg.

Reasons Why Crime Is So High in Winnipeg

There are several reasons why crime is so high in Winnipeg, including poverty, population, substance abuse, street gang, and limited police. 

Now let’s explore every reason.



Poverty is a major factor in the high crime rate in Winnipeg. According to a report by the Manitoba government, the poverty rate in Winnipeg is higher than the national average, with 11.1% of households living below the poverty line. 

Canada had an average of 235,000 people living in poverty in 2021. Of this, Winnipeg accounted for about 30% (70,000+). 

This means that many people in the city struggle to meet their basic needs, such as food, shelter, and healthcare. This can lead to desperation and frustration, which often result in criminal behavior.

One of the most obvious ways poverty affects crime in the city is the lack of stable housing. People who are homeless or living in unstable living situations are more likely to turn to crime as a means of survival. 

Another way it contributes to the high crime rate is the lack of access to mental health services

Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety are common among people living in poverty, but many cannot afford to seek help. These issues can lead to substance abuse and criminal behavior without proper treatment.



Winnipeg is one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada, with its population increasing by nearly 12% between 2011 and 2016. 

This rapid growth has placed pressure on the city’s resources, including its police force, leading to increased crime.

As the largest city in Manitoba, Winnipeg has a population of over 700,000, and 50% of its population resides in urban areas. This high population affects crime through the number of people living close to each other. 

When more people are living in an area, it creates more opportunities for criminal activity. This is especially true in urban areas with many high-traffic areas and a lot of foot traffic.

Additionally, the high population also creates challenges for law enforcement. With so many people in the city, it can be difficult for police to keep track of criminal activity and respond quickly to incidents. 

This can make it easier for criminals to operate without fear of getting caught. In fact, one of the cons of living in Winnipeg is that the city has a low response to crime. 

Substance Abuse

Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is also a major problem in Winnipeg, with a high rate of drug and alcohol addiction. According to the Winnipeg Sun, there were over 7,631 substance abuse-related calls to the WFPS in 2020. 

The impact of substance abuse is important when it comes to criminal behavior, as it is often linked to committing crimes. This contributes to the high crime rate of the city through the need to fund an addiction. 

People addicted to drugs or alcohol often find themselves financially troubled, as they spend a large portion of their income on their addiction. As a result, this leads to criminal activities such as theft, burglary, and robbery.

Additionally, this can also lead to an increase in violent crime. This is especially true in cases where drugs such as methamphetamine and cocaine are involved, as they can cause users to become paranoid, aggressive, and violent. 

Consequently, this leads to an increase in domestic violence, assault, and other violent crimes.

Street Gang

Street Gang

Gang activity in Winnipeg has increased recently, with an estimated 17 active gangs operating in the city. Additionally, over 70 reported crime incidents were related to gangs in 2020. 

The impact of street gangs is particularly significant in the city’s crime rate. It often leads to an increase in violence and other criminal behavior.

Street gangs contribute primarily to the high crime rate in Winnipeg through drug trafficking. They often distribute illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. 

This can lead to increased drug-related crimes, such as theft, robbery, and violence.

Another way in which street gangs contribute to crime is through the use of violence to maintain control of their territory. 

They often engage in violent activities such as assault and homicide to protect their drug turf, settle disputes, or establish dominance. This can lead to an increase in violent crime, including homicides and shootings.

Additionally, street gangs recruit young people into their ranks. They often prey on vulnerable youth seeking a sense of belonging or protection. 

Once recruited, young people are pressured into criminal activities, such as drug trafficking or theft. This can lead to an increase in juvenile/youth crime.

Limited Police

Limited Police

Winnipeg has a lower police-to-population ratio (173 in every 100,000 people) than other major Canadian cities like Vancouver (189.1 in every 100,000 people) and Montreal (204.3 in every 100,000 people). 

Winnipeg’s police force faces several challenges, including a low budget and a shortage of officers. This can make it difficult for the police to patrol the city and respond to criminal activity promptly and effectively.

In turn, this has contributed to a range of issues when it comes to public safety.

With fewer police officers on patrol, criminals may feel proud to engage in criminal activities, as there is a lower chance of getting caught. This leads to increased crimes such as theft, burglary, and robbery.

Additionally, fewer officers are available to respond to calls, which can take longer for police to arrive on the scene. 

The delay can give criminals more time to carry out their activities, leading to an increase in violent crimes such as assault and homicide.

Another way in which limited police can contribute to the high crime rate in Winnipeg is through a lack of resources for investigations. 

Investigators may not have the proper resources to conduct thorough investigations, especially in complex cases, which can lead to unsolved cases, and criminals may continue to engage in criminal activities with little fear of being caught.

Winnipeg’s Crime Statistics

Unfortunately, the city is known for its high crime rate, which has been a concern for residents and officials for many years. Winnipeg’s crime statistics show that the city has experienced a significant increase in crime over the past decade.

Let’s take a look at the crime rate, crime frequency, and crime severity index of the city.

Winnipeg's Crime Statistics

Winnipeg’s Crime Rate

Winnipeg has a crime rate of 7,004 incidents per 100,000 people, while the country’s crime rate is 5,375 incidents per 100,000 people.

This means that Winnipeg experiences more crime than the rest of the country. Winnipeg’s crime rate is also significantly higher than the provincial average of 5,904 incidents per 100,000 people.

Winnipeg’s Crime Frequency

According to Statistics Canada, Winnipeg’s crime frequency was at its highest in 2022, with total crime incidents of 67,672. The year 2021 to 2022 also had the most significant increase, with about a 15,800 jump.

Crime Frequency57,71763,54960,40051,77467,672

Winnipeg’s Crime Severity Index

Winnipeg’s crime severity index (CSI) in 2021 was 126.92, which was close to the city’s average of 127.51 for the last five years.

It is safe to say that despite the high crime rate and frequency, the severity of the city’s crime incidents was not as dangerous as it was in 2019 (139.65).

Additionally, the city’s crime severity index in 2019 was a 10% increase from the previous year. It is considered to be the biggest increase of the decade. 

Crime Severity Index119.03126.15139.65125.84126.92

Most Common Crimes Committed in Winnipeg 

The most common crimes committed in Winnipeg are theft and shoplifting, assault, break-and-enter, drug offenses, robbery, and other property crimes.

According to Numbeo, Winnipeg has a high level of crime, with a record of 70.39. Below are some of the crime categories that happen in Winnipeg and their respective occurrences rated by the residents. 

Crime CategoryRateLevel
Worries of home being broken and things stolen52.33Moderate
Worries of being mugged or robbed53.93Moderate
Worries of car being stolen49.15Moderate
Worries of things from car being stolen65.07High
Worries of being attacked53.14Moderate
Worries of being insulted52.58Moderate
Worries of getting attacked because of your skin color, ethnic origin, gender, or religion33.69Low
Problem of people using or dealing drugs75.23High
Problem of property crimes such as vandalism and theft68.75High
Problem of violent crimes such as assault and armed robbery62.3High
Problem of corruption and bribery42.62Moderate

Winnipeg, like any other city, has its fair share of crime. Theft and shoplifting, assault, break and enter, drug offenses, property crimes, and robbery are some of the most commonly committed in the city. 

Theft and Shoplifting27.9% - 19,725
Assault12.1% - 8,534
Drug Offenses1%
Property Crime73.6%

1. Theft and Shoplifting

Theft and shoplifting are some of the most common crimes committed in Winnipeg. Shoplifting is particularly prevalent in retail, with thieves often targeting stores in shopping malls and downtown areas. 

There were over 19,700+ cases of various theft and shoplifting, which covers about 27.9% of Winnipeg’s overall crime in 2022. 

2. Assault

Assault is another prevalent crime in Winnipeg. It can take many forms, ranging from domestic violence to street fights. 

According to Winnipeg Police, there were over 7,400 reported assaults in 2021, which is a 48% increase from the previous year (5,000+).

Over 12.1% of Winnipeg’s overall crime in 2022 were assaults, which is over 8,500 incidents.

3. Break-and-Enter

Break-and-enter crimes involve gaining access to a property without permission, with the intention of committing theft or other crimes. These crimes can occur in both residential and commercial settings. 

In 2022, there were over 6,400 reported break-and-enter incidents in Winnipeg. This covers about 9.2% of Winnipeg’s overall crime.

4. Drug Offenses

Drug offenses, such as possession and trafficking, are also common in Winnipeg. The city is known to have a high number of methamphetamine users, which has increased related crimes.

Overall, Winnipeg has recorded over 400 different cases of drug-related offenses in 2022, which is about 0.6% of the total crimes in the same year.

5. Property Crime

Property crime is a broad category that includes offenses such as vandalism, theft, and arson. It is a significant problem in Winnipeg, with many residents reporting damage to their vehicles and homes.

Winnipeg’s property crimes were recorded to be 73.6% of the total crimes in 2022. To include, theft and shoplifting accounted for about 38% of overall property crimes.

Below are some of the classes of property crime in the city and their respective percentage.

Property Crime CategoryPercentage from Total Property Crime
Possess Stolen Property1.3%
Theft and Shoplifting38%
Identity Fraud0.54%

6. Robbery

Robbery is a serious crime that involves the use of force or threat of force to take property from someone else. It is more prevalent in certain neighborhoods of the city, such as Downtown Winnipeg and North End. 

In 2022, there were over 2,300 reported robberies in the city.