Crime severity spikes in Winnipeg, Manitoba has highest provincial homicide rate

Click to play video: 'Police Chief Danny Smyth on Winnipeg’s rising crime rates'
Police Chief Danny Smyth on Winnipeg’s rising crime rates
Police Chief Danny Smyth speaks to media Monday about the city's rising crime rates – Jul 22, 2019

Winnipeg’s crime index is up ten per cent year-over-year, compared to the rate of 1.9 per cent across the country, and is the highest in the country.

Statistics Canada released their annual crime severity index numbers Monday, and the results show Winnipeg with a significant spike.

In 2017, the crime severity index was rated at 108.48. In 2018, that number jumped to 119.43.

The violent crime index for Winnipeg also went up 4 per cent to 161.44.

“The Crime Severity Index (CSI) measures changes in the level of severity of crime in Canada from year to year,” said Stats Can.

“In the index, all crimes are assigned a weight based on their seriousness. The level of seriousness is based on actual sentences handed down by the courts in all provinces and territories. More serious crimes are assigned higher weights, less serious offences lower weights. As a result, more serious offences have a greater impact on changes in the index.”

Story continues below advertisement

In Manitoba, the crime index is up 5.7 per cent to 125.76, and violent crime is up 5.65 per cent to 169.80. This is also the highest in Canada, although the overall rate in the country has dropped.

Manitoba is also the highest in homicide rates for provinces, with 55 homicides in 2018 and a rating of 4.07. In the territories, percentage ratings are significantly higher due to much smaller populations.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

“After increasing in 2017, Canada’s homicide rate declined 4% in 2018, from 1.82 to 1.76 homicides per 100,000 population,” said Stats Can.

“Police reported 651 homicides in Canada in 2018, 15 fewer than the previous year. Despite the decline, the homicide rate was higher than the Canadian average over the previous decade.”

Story continues below advertisement

One in five of the victims of crime was Indigenous, said Stats Can.

In Canada, violent crime is up 1.43 per cent, and youth crime is down 10.88 per cent. Youth violent crime is down 5.55 per cent. The numbers for youth crime in Winnipeg were not available.

The next highest index appears to be Thunder Bay at 94.29 for crime, and 159.68 for violent crime.

Across the country, police reported meth as a concern and a factor in rising crime rates.

“A number of police services have indicated that the illicit use of methamphetamine (crystal meth) is a growing issue in their communities and may be contributing to increases in other types of crime, including property and violent crimes.”

Mayor Brian Bowman acknowledged the role meth is playing in the city and province’s crime rates.

“Meth continues to be a driver of crime in our cities … it’s a Manitoba issue as well.”

Bowman said the meth crisis needs a collaborative approach and that it shouldn’t only be the WPS’s problem.

Story continues below advertisement

WATCH: Mayor Brian Bowman on the city’s meth crisis

Click to play video: 'Mayor Brian Bowman on the city’s meth crisis'
Mayor Brian Bowman on the city’s meth crisis

“Police are often called to respond to non-core policing activities … one half to two-thirds of all calls for service are to deal with families in crisis, and individuals struggling with the challenges of mental health, medical and substance abuse,” he said.

Police Chief Danny Smyth said with the exception of arson, crime has gone up in every category.

WPS statistics for crime in Winnipeg for 2018.
WPS statistics for crime in Winnipeg for 2018. Winnipeg Police Service

Reported sexual assaults were up across the country, and reports deemed “unfounded” were down, said Stats Can.

Story continues below advertisement

“The reporting of sexual assaults increased in October 2017 when the #MeToo social media campaign was at its peak, and remained higher throughout every month in 2018.”

Read the Winnipeg Police Service’s annual report:

Sponsored content