The Global/Ipsos survey shows contradicting feelings toward crime in the Maritimes. Many Haligonians list it as their number one concern, while the issue barely registers in New Brunswick.
The Canada’s Pulse survey asked “What they think is the most important issue in their community.”
Nationally, crime was the number one concern for about 8% of Canadians. But in New Brunswick just 1% listed it as their top concern.
While Nova Scotia was slightly lower than the national average at 6%, Halifax was by far the most concerned about crime in their community. 28% said crime was the number one concern. And when asked if they agreed with the statement “I feel safe walking alone in my own neighbourhood after dark” only 64% of Haligonians said yes, well below the national and maritime averages.
“In Nova Scotia there’s some drug related crimes that have been happening and they’re well reported and documented so those kinds of things can contribute to a person’s fear of crime,” says Mary Anne Campbell from the Centre for Criminal Justice Studies at UNBSJ.
“It is unfortunate that people would have that sense of feeling unsafe,” says Cst. Brian Palmeter of the Halifax Regional Police, “but we do recognize that we’ve said before that we’ve had a series of violent incidents and that does have an impact on the community. But we’ve been working hard, making a number of arrests and we’re hoping certainly that those numbers will rebound because we do feel that Halifax is a safe area.”
The most recent quarterly crime stats show a 5% increase in violent crime in Halifax. That’s due in part to a sharp rise in the number of homicides. There were 12 homicides in the first half of this year in the Halifax Regional Municipality. That compares to just 5 during the same period last year. Police say they’re aware how alarming these numbers are but say in most cases, the homicides have been linked to drugs and organized crime.
“They’re very difficult in most cases to predict or stop so what we have to do is find the people responsible, charge them, and get them off the street,” says Palmeter.
But New Brunswick isn’t crime free, so why is the fear so much less.
“Some of the violence that has been committed is less random,” says Campbell, “where there are identified assailants and it’s not something that’s happening in the general public. So people are unlikely to be affected by those crimes when they happen.”
Another reason for the safe feeling among residents is the community policing initiative in Saint John that creates more interaction between residents and officers.
Police want people to feel safe in their own neighbourhoods and say it’ll take a collaboration between police and residents to keep a watchful eye on crime.