The federal government is pushing ahead with its tough on crime agenda by spending billions of dollars on building new prisons and implementing changes to the Criminal Code to crack down on organized crime.

While statistics show crime rates have been on the decline over the past few years, the federal Conservatives plan to spend $9 billion to build new prisons.

Treasury Board President Stockwell Day insists rates of unreported crimes are increasing. He described the numbers as “alarming”.

Day didn’t provide data to back up his claim Tuesday, but said the government would follow up. He also didn’t specify what types of crime are going unreported.

Day’s spokesperson said he was referring to the General Social Survey — a Statistics Canada questionnaire that asks people if they’ve ever been a victim of crime and whether they reported it to police.

The results of the latest survey aren’t due out until September. The 2004 report shows a decrease in reported crime from 37 per cent to 34 per cent.

According to data on reported crimes compiled by Stats Can and released last month, overall crime, including homicides, sexual assaults and robberies, dropped by seven per cent in 2007.  

And on Wednesday, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson revealed changes to the Criminal Code. The amendments increase the number of acts designated as serious offences, including gambling and specific prostitution and drug-related charges.

The changes are targeted at criminal gangs.

“The fact that an offence is committed by a criminal organization makes it a serious crime,” Nicholson said in a statement.

“These regulations will help ensure that police and prosecutors can make full use of the tools in the Criminal Code that are specifically targeted at tackling organized crime.”

With files from the Canadian Press