Canadians reported fewer crimes to police last year than they did the year before, continuing a trend that has seen the national crime rate fall by nearly one-fifth over the past decade.

Statistics Canada says Canadians reported 2.2 million crimes to police last year, down about 3 per cent -- or 43,000 fewer reported crimes -- from the year before.

Canadians also reported 17 per cent fewer crimes than they did a decade ago.

Last year, Canadians reported 17,000 fewer vehicle thefts, 10,000 fewer mischief offences and 5,000 fewer break-ins, compared to the previous 12 months.

Still, some critics are urging the government to focus more on crime prevention, particularly among youth – a group police say has seen an increase in homicide charges in the past decade.

"What you really need is a particular focus on community safety and crime prevention within the community," Ralph Goodale, Liberal MP for Wascana, told CTV Ottawa's Daniele Hamamdjian.

The numbers released Tuesday showed the severity of crimes also decreased in many parts of the country.

Police use the Crime Severity Index (CSI) to measure the seriousness of crime reported to police in a given year. Under this system, a higher number of more serious sentences will lead to a higher CSI rating.

According to StatsCan, the CSI declined by 4 per cent last year and was down 22 per cent below its 1999 level.

At a provincial level, the CSI declined or stayed the same in every single province and territory except for Manitoba and Nunavut, whose CSI measures were both up 2 per cent over the previous year.

In terms of cities, the municipal area of Abbortsford-Mission in B.C. saw the greatest CSI decline with 22 per cent. Quebec's Saguenay municipal area saw the greatest CSI increase at 12 per cent.

StatsCan reports that violent crime also declined -- representing one in five crimes reported to police last year -- though not as much as overall crime. But the statistics agency said that "both the volume and severity of youth crime were 10 per cent higher in 2009 than in 1999."

With files from The Canadian Press