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Crime in York Region increases in 2021, police solve-rates fall

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Crime rates in York Region increased last year after “remaining steady in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a new report.

The document was considered by the York Regional Police Services Board Tuesday. It shows the total number of crimes dealt with by York police increased by 6.5 per cent in 2021.

“Increases back to pre-pandemic levels were observed in several crime categories,” the report said.

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The majority of crimes committed in the region, which includes Vaughan, Markham and Richmond Hill, were against property. Around 57 per cent of the almost 40,000 crimes recorded last year fell into the property category.

The rising rate of crime was accompanied by falling solve-rates for police.

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Last year saw a five-year low for the force’s clearance rate, which indicates the percentage of crimes where charges were laid. In 2021, York Regional Police were only able to clear 27 per cent of all crimes against property that they responded to. In 2017 that rate was 42 per cent.

According to York Regional Police, its clearance rate is “calculated by the number of violations cleared by charge(s being laid)…divided by the number of violations.”

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Police in York Region also responded to almost 10,000 crimes against persons. That includes assault, sexual assault and homicide. The force reported a clearance rate of 57 per cent for crimes against persons, compared to 75 per cent in 2017.

“Clearance rates have decreased in police services across the country due to a change in reporting categories by Statistics Canada,” a spokesperson for York Regional Police told Global News. ‘In addition, clearance rates are not the only performance indicator York Regional Police employs to measure our success.’

The force did see its solve rate increase marginally for weapons violations to 84 per cent last year and it solved more “moral violations” — gambling and prostitution — than it had in previous years. This includes arson, break and enter, mischief and theft.

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