Canada's national crime rate has been falling steadily for the past 20 years and is now at its lowest level since 1973.

Canada's Crime Severity Index, published by Statistics Canda, said that Canadian police services reported more than 437,000 violent incidents in 2010, about 7,200 fewer than in the previous year. Violent crimes accounted for just over 1 in 5 offences.

There were 554 homicides, 56 fewer than in 2009. The national rate of 1.62 homicides per 100,000 population in 2010 was the lowest since 1966. The 10% decline in the homicide rate from 2009 to 2010 followed a decade of relative stability.

The number of attempted murders also declined, from 801 in 2009 to 693 in 2010. This resulted in the lowest rate for this offence in over 30 years.

Police reported more than 22,000 sexual assaults in 2010, according to the Index. This represented an increase of 5% in the rate since 2009, the first increase in sexual assault since 2005.

Similar to previous years, most crimes (79%) reported by police in 2010 were non-violent. Theft under $5,000, mischief and break-ins accounted for close to two-thirds of the almost 1.7 million non-violent offences.

The non-violent Crime Severity Index fell 6% in 2010 to 80.3, the seventh consecutive decline.

Police reported nearly 200,000 break-ins last year. The rate of break-ins fell 6% in 2010, continuing a steady decline since peaking in the early 1990s.

Nearly 93,000 motor vehicles were reported stolen in 2010. This represented a 15% drop in the rate since 2009 and a continuation of the downward trend seen since the mid-1990s.

According to the Index, Saskatchewan reported the highest rate of motor vehicle theft in 2010. This is a change from a decade-long trend which saw Manitoba reporting the highest rate among the provinces.

The national rate of impaired driving fell 6% from 2009, following three consecutive years of increase. However, the rate of impaired driving has generally been declining since peaking in 1981.

In 2010, police reported more than 108,000 drug offences, about half of which were for possession of cannabis, according to the Index. The rate of drug offences increased 10% from 2009, continuing a general upward trend that began in the early 1990s.

Among the provinces, Alberta and British Columbia reported the largest declines in crime in 2010. The crime rate fell by 6% in both provinces, while the Crime Severity Index decreased by 8% in Alberta and 7% in British Columbia.

As in previous years, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories continued to report the highest Crime Severity Index values. Among the provinces, Saskatchewan reported the highest Crime Severity Index, followed by Manitoba and British Columbia. The lowest Crime Severity Index values were seen in Ontario, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.

The volume and severity of crime fell or remained stable across virtually all census metropolitan areas (CMAs) in 2010, including Canada's 10 largest cities.

As has been the case since 1998, Regina reported the highest Crime Severity Index, followed by Saskatoon and Winnipeg. Calgary was the only western CMA to have a Crime Severity Index below the national average.

Guelph reported the lowest Crime Severity Index for the fourth year in a row, followed by Québec, Toronto and Ottawa.

Police reported that nearly 153,000 youth aged 12 to 17 were accused of a crime in 2010, almost 15,000 fewer than the previous year. The youth crime rate, which measures the overall volume of crime committed by youth, declined by 7%.

Youth crime rates declined for most offences in 2010, including homicide, serious assaults, motor vehicle thefts and break-ins. However, robbery was one of the few offences to show an increase for youth in 2010, up 2%.

The youth Crime Severity Index has also declined over the past 10 years, including a 6% drop in 2010. However, the severity of violent crime committed by youth has not seen the same decrease. Despite a 4% drop between 2009 and 2010, the youth violent Crime Severity Index was 5% higher than in 2000.