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Central Okanagan’s crime rate up 10% in 2021

Click to play video: 'Central Okanagan crime rate up 10% in 2021' Central Okanagan crime rate up 10% in 2021
Kelowna RCMP and the city's mayor say they're taking a wide variety of actions to address a rise in the crime rate. Officials were defending their response to the ongoing issue, after new Statistics Canada numbers showed crime trending in the wrong direction. The data shows among major Canadian metropolitan areas, Kelowna had the worst crime rate and second worst crime severity index last year – Aug 3, 2022

Kelowna RCMP and the city’s mayor said they’re taking a wide variety of actions to address an increase in the crime rate.

Officials were defending their response, after new Statistics Canada numbers showed crime trending in the wrong direction last year.

The data shows, among major Canadian metropolitan areas, Kelowna had the worst crime rate and second worst crime severity index last year.

Read more: Kelowna report on crime draws criticism from B.C.’s attorney general

The Kelowna area data covers the entire Central Okanagan region and shows the crime severity index was up 6 per cent last year, while the per capita crime rate was up 10 per cent.

Either way you measure it, police-reported crime in the region was well above the national level in 2021.

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“I am not here to tell you that we don’t have a problem that needs to be responded to. I am here to tell you that these concerning statistics are ones that we are actively working on,” said Supt. Kara Triance, the officer in charge of Kelowna’s RCMP detachment, at a press conference to respond to the numbers.

Triance said the work police are doing to address the crime rate includes targeting repeat offenders, putting more officers on the streets and creating a dedicated team earlier this year to address child sex abuse images and child exploitation.

“When we see areas that are needing focus, we reallocate the resources there,” she said.

However, the head of the RCMP detachment pointed out that proactive police work also generates new files and drives up the stats.

Additionally, Triance argued other agencies have a role to play in helping to addressing crime.

“Our officers will continue to arrest people committing criminal acts. What we need [are] well functioning justice and health systems to defer to in order to stop the impacts on our communities,” Triance said.

Read more: Kelowna, B.C. seeks ‘appropriate levels of consequence and monitoring’ of prolific offenders

Triance argued the influx of tourists in the region each year increases reported crimes.

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Kelowna’s mayor says he was frustrated to read the latest stats, and the city is taking the issue very seriously by increasing police budgets and trying to address social factors.

“We are working with the province to implement something called complex care, which is housing and support for people with the most severe cases of mental heath and addictions issues,” Mayor Colin Basran said.

“A lot of this housing, whether it be supportive or complex care housing, is optional. Maybe it’s time that we start considering making treatment mandatory for people who are committing crimes. So that is one of the things we are advocating for or talking about with the provincial government.”

Read more: Kelowna RCMP: 20 per cent vacancy levels remain a challenge

Basran said he is also advocating for justice system reforms to address repeat offenders.

“As frustrating as this is for home owners, for business owners, and people who have been victims of crime in our community, there is a lot of good work being done. It’s just going to take more time,” the mayor said.

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