Saskatoon police’s hate crimes unit doubles caseload in second year of operation

A report to Saskatoon's board of police commissioners gave an update on the hate crimes unit. File / Global News

Saskatoon police’s hate crimes unit has been active for two years now and the number of events officers reviewed last year almost doubled from the first year.

The Saskatoon Police Service submitted a report for Thursday’s Board of Police Commissioners meeting detailing what the hate crimes unit has seen over the past year.

Police defined a hate crime as, “a criminal offence committed against a person or property that is motivated in whole or in part by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, or on any other similar factor.”

Click to play video: 'Reviewing the first year of Saskatoon police’s hate crimes unit'
Reviewing the first year of Saskatoon police’s hate crimes unit

A total 403 events were investigated and recorded by police last year, nearly double the 208 reviewed in 2022.

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The report said the increase was mainly due to the establishment and evolution of the hate crimes unit.

“One of the reasons the numbers doubled was because there is now a dedicated unit and files that otherwise would not have been located are now being identified, assessed and categorized
appropriately,” the report said.

Of the events recorded in 2023, 41 per cent had patrol officers dispatched and didn’t require further investigation, and the remaining 58 per cent resulted in a report that was then investigated by the hate crimes unit.

A total of 64 of the 403 recorded events were considered a hate crime or suspected hate crime:

  • 20 were suspected hate crimes
  • 36 were hate crimes
  • one was advocating genocide
  • three were public incitement of hatred
  • four were mischief to religious property
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Police said about 25 per cent of those events resulted in a charge in which hate was recommended as an aggravating factor. Those charges ranged from robbery, uttering threats, assault and criminal harassment.

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Saskatoon police have an online reporting tool for hate crime that can be accessed on the website. The report said that residents will still need to speak with an officer in person if the report involves weapon related offences, threats to people or property or personal violence or threats of personal violence with a known suspect.

The report also talked about the future initiatives for the hate crimes unit, saying that it wants to use information and products to foster learning within the Saskatoon Police Service, as well as offer presentations and pamphlets to the community.

It said that the hate crimes unit also aims to provide information to the courts and build relationships with the Crown Prosecutors Office as well as the patrol division, criminal investigations division, Alberta Hate Crimes Intelligence Group, National 2SLGBTQIA Liaison Group, and the SPS Victim Services.

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