It hasn’t been an overnight change, but Lethbridge is moving up the list of most dangerous places in Canada, according to Maclean’s magazine.
The publication has released its annual report. The most recent numbers are from 2017 and the data comes from Statistics Canada.
Maclean’s says when looking at five-year changes with regard to the crime severity index, Lethbridge’s rising numbers see it land in third place out of 237 municipalities across the country.
Claire Brownell, associate editor of reports and rankings at Maclean’s, said there were a number of contributing factors that saw Lethbridge move up the ranks.
“The biggest one would be trafficking in drugs, other than cocaine and marijuana,” she said. “So that would include opioids, crystal meth — those drugs we keep hearing about.
“There was a 225 per cent increase in trafficking of those types of drugs over five years.”
Brownell said other factors were firearms offences — which doubled — and break-and-enter incidents, which saw an 87 per cent increase.
When presented with these findings, members of the Lethbridge Police Service said they were aware of the ongoing rise in criminal activity the city is seeing. In return, the LPS said it is already in the process of making changes to better address these issues.
“We have recognized the need for being more active in some of those areas and putting more boots on the streets,” said Sgt. Bruce Hagel.
“Some of these methods are in their infancy but things like getting the community involved with neighbourhood watch-type programs, and community Peace Officers and things like that where we can have more exposure, and that more exposure hopefully will reduce those numbers even more.”
Lethbridge also saw a major spike in fraud incidents.
However Hagel said the rise in fraudulent crimes isn’t isolated, but is in part, linked to the ongoing drug crisis the city has been facing over the last few years.
“There have been instances of say credit card frauds, identity frauds and things like that are directly related to the drug sub-culture,” said Hagel, “with people looking to make some quick money to feed that drug habit.”
As for overall crime, Lethbridge sits at No. 19 on Maclean’s rankings, North Battleford, Sask., is ranked No. 1.
For violent crimes, Lethbridge is ranked 39th. Thompson, Man., topped the rankings in that category.
Across the country, the crime severity index rose for the third consecutive year. That comes after 11 years of declines.