According to a newly released Statistics Canada report, both the crime severity index and overall crime rates fell in both major urban areas of Saskatchewan as well as in the province as a whole in 2020.
The Regina census metropolitan area (CMA) saw the largest decrease in both crime rate and crime severity index (CSI) of any census metropolitan area in the country.
CSI, which is calculated through StatCan’s annual Uniform Crime Reporting survey, fell by 20 per cent year over year in the Regina area. That figure balances the violent CSI ( down five per cent) and non-violent CSI ( down 26 per cent).
The area’s crime rate fell by 27 per cent, also the largest year-over-year decrease in the country.
“We saw property crimes decrease significantly, and we’ve talked about that throughout the pandemic — about the difference in behaviour,” said Regina Police Chief Evan Bray Tuesday morning.
“People working from home, businesses being closed down, has really allowed for a decrease in property-related crime in our community.”
The total property crime rate was down more than 34 per cent year-over-year.
Rates for most other types of crime were also down, though both the drug offenses rate (up 11 per cent) and sexual assault rate ( up one per cent) increased.
Provincewide, the CSI dropped six per cent in 2020 compared to 2019.
The StatCan report notes decreases in break-and-enters, thefts of $5,000 or under, shoplifting of $5,000 or under, robberies and vehicle theft as factors driving the provincial decrease. The report adds that the decrease was offset by increases in some assault categories and violent gun-related offenses.
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In Saskatoon, the CSI dropped by ten per cent, while the crime rate dropped 11 per cent.
“In March, there were some restrictions placed as a result of COVID-19 and those restrictions had a significant impact on crime for the rest of the year,” Saskatoon Police Chief Troy Cooper.
Canada-wide, the CSI dropped eight per cent year-over-year.
One notable increase in the 2020 report showed police-reported hate crimes increased nationwide by 37 per cent to 2,669 in 2020, from 1,951 in 2019 — the largest number of police-reported hate crimes in a calendar year since the statistic began being tracked.
Such crimes targeting race or ethnicity almost doubled year-over-year, with Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta reporting the largest increases.
Bray said there hasn’t been a “marked or substantial increase” in hate crimes in Regina and said the Regina Police Service (RPS).
“We don’t have a lot of evidence of the crimes that we investigated last year that any of them were actually hate-motivated,” Bray said.
The July Regina Board of Police Commissioners meeting was also held Tuesday, in which the RPS released their mid-year crime statistics.
The report, which tracks crime only in the city of Regina itself, showed an overall police-reported crime decrease of six per cent through the first six months of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020.
While the decrease was driven by overall drops in crimes against persons and property crimes, total assaults did increase by one per cent over mid-year 2020, while the number of reported sexual assaults increased by 22 per cent compared to mid-year 2020.
Reported arson incidents are also up significantly at the mid-year mark.
Through June in 2020, The RPS reported 109 arsons. Through June this year, they’ve reported 151. The ten-year average for arsons reported mid-year is just 67.
“Arsons are a crime where we usually see a small number of people that cause a large number of incidents to happen,” Bray said.
“Unsecured, unlocked vacant dwelling houses, garages, excess garbage in back alleys — these are targets for people who commit arson, so we’re also trying to work from an education perspective with our community to try and limit those opportunities from happening.”
Traffic and drug violations were not included in the report.