Watch above: While the rate and severity of crime decreased in dozens of Canadian cities, Edmonton’s held steady. Laurel Gregory looks at the Statistics Canada numbers.
EDMONTON – Edmonton was singled out in Statistics Canada’s annual police-report Crime Severity Index and not in a good way.
The report was released Wednesday and showed an overall decrease in CSI in all major cities, except Edmonton, which remained unchanged from 2012 to 2013.
“It’s just a reflection that we’re one of the fastest growing municipalities in the country I think,” said City Councillor Mike Nickel. “You’ve got to be careful when you always look at those numbers.”
“We have something like 30,000 people moving to Edmonton every year, so with that will come its associated proportion of civil disturbance and crime.”
“Is it a worry? Always. We want to see the trend go down.”
Edmonton also has the fifth highest CSI in Canada. The highest was Regina followed by Saskatoon, Kelowna and Vancouver.
The report calculates traditional crime rate, which is the volume of crime reported to police per 100,000 people, and the severity index which measures both the volume and severity of crime.
As opposed to crime rate – which is a count of all criminal incidents, regardless of the type or seriousness of the offence – the Crime Severity Index tracks the severity and volume of crime. So, offences that lead to incarceration are given more weight than those that do not. For example, a homicide would have more impact on the index than a robbery.
However, like Nickel, Edmonton’s Deputy Police Chief warns the numbers – without proper context – don’t paint an accurate picture.
“I’d like to see better numbers, absolutely, but in the context of our environment in Edmonton – which is unique in Canada – it’s not a bad story,” said Brian Simpson.
“I think that’s a good news story in terms of the environment in Edmonton.
“I mean, we’re the economic driver for Canada, we have a large influx of new people to our community everyday, high levels of employment, high levels of disposable income – factors which impact crime. So, when you look at the totality of the picture, actually it’s a good news story overall,” explained Simpson.
“We have a lot of people who don’t live here, aren’t shown as being part of our population, but pass through this community everyday,” he added. “We’re the hub for the north, we’re the hub for the rest of Canada right now, so those numbers represent a bit of it, but not the total information.”
Despite Edmonton’s stagnant CSI, crime in Canada decreased by nine per cent since 2012, bringing crime to the lowest level since 1969. There were 1.8 million incidences of crime, with the decrease owing largely to less break and enters in 2013.
The report did show an increase in some criminal activity such as extortion, child pornography, aggravated sexual assault, sexual violations against children and identity fraud.
© Shaw Media, 2014