Despite a falling crime rate in 2017, Saskatoon’s crime severity index leads the countries larger cities.
The data, released Monday by Statistics Canada, covers Canada’s census metropolitan areas, which are cities with a population of 100,000 with at least 50,000 living within the core.
Saskatoon’s crime severity index of 115 in 2017 led the country, but is down one per cent from 2016. Statistics Canada said the drop is due decreases in homicide, theft of $5,000 or under, fraud, and motor vehicle theft. Saskatoon did have an increase of robbery and break and enters.
“It’s not an honor to be at the top of that ranking,” Saskatoon police Chief Troy Cooper said. “It paints a picture of what’s actually occurring here.”
Saskatoon’s crime rate fell three per cent over the same time frame.
“We do know from our own experience that those issues around drugs and addictions fueled offending is what’s our challenge here,” Cooper said.
Regina had the third highest rate in the country with a crime severity index of 111.9, which is down a record 11 per cent in 2017. A decline in robbery, break and enter, and attempted murder are being attributed to the drop. Regina also had an 18 percent decline in their violent crime severity index.
Saskatoon sits third in the country with a violent crime severity, which measures all police-report violent crime; the rate did decline two per cent in 2017.
Statistics Canada also said Saskatoon recorded a 15 per cent decrease in motor vehicle thefts in 2017, property crime declined five per cent while there was seven per cent less drug charges between 2016 and 2017.
Cooper said the numbers released in the report are no surprise, but police are concerned with the consistency of offending.
Analysts are expected to comb through the data to find any detail that may help with future enforcement.
“You’ll see us looking to add resources around drug enforcement, partnering with other agencies that have similar sorts of challenges,” Cooper said. “We’ll have strategies that apply themselves upstream a little bit, so that’s the kind of thing we’re looking to do.”
Saskatchewan had the fourth highest crime severity index among the provinces and territories in 2017, despite a six per cent decline. According to Statistics Canada, decreases in homicide, fraud, and breaking and entering contributed to the pull back. Violent crime was also reported down in 2017.
However, the province did see a 48 per cent increase in violent firearms offences in 2017. Rural crime is also on the rise in the province; Saskatchewan reported a 36 per cent higher rate than in urban areas.
Impaired driving rates also fell five per cent in Saskatchewan last year, while drug-impaired driving charges increased 43 percent in the same time frame.
According to Statistics Canada, youth crime also fell in Saskatchewan.
Cannabis offences declined nationally in 2017, but the highest rates of people charged with possession of cannabis were reported in Saskatchewan at 63 per 100,000 population.
Nationally, the crime severity index increased for the third consecutive year, and the national crime rate rose by one per cent.