Number of violent crimes reported to police on the rise

The number of reported violent crimes has been trending upward in Red Deer since 2004, say consultants of a major study addressing crime prevention and policing.

The number of reported violent crimes has been trending upward in Red Deer since 2004, say consultants of a major study addressing crime prevention and policing.

Peter Copple of Calgary and Keith Taylor of Vancouver, both with the consulting firm of Perivale and Taylor, presented a report to city council on Monday that showed a startling figure when it came to violent crime between 2004 and 2009.

Although the violent crime rate per 100,000 population decreased by just under five per cent, Copple said the number of actual reported offences could be problematic.

The number of these types of crimes rose to 2,171 reports in 2009 — a jump of 19 per cent from 2004 when 1,895 cases were reported.

“If there’s more numbers reported, then there’s a greater drain on police resources,” said Copple outside council chambers. “Those crimes can be quite complex and resource intensive, like a homicide.”

The consultants are leading a $150,000 project to update the Crime Prevention and Policing Study approved in 2005. Part of their work will also involve doing a review on leading crime prevention and policing practices from other communities. They’ll also do a policing model review, including identifying the pros and cons of having the RCMP, a municipal police force or a combined municipal-RCMP police force.

Their initial report looked at current and previous trend comparisons of crime rates as well as police workload, crime perceptions and new legislation, to name a few topics.

Copple said he found it interesting that back in 2004, when the initial study was done, that child pornography and Internet luring, were relatively non-existent. The numbers were still small in 2009, but these types of crimes are “now on the map”, Copple said.

“This is a trend that we’re seeing across Canada,” he said.

With this new trend will come the need for certain resources, like the child exploitation units already in Calgary and Edmonton and involve both municipal and RCMP forces.

Copple said they’ll also be delving further into the area of social networking websites, such as whether children are being bullied through Twitter and other sites. Again this is a new trend from 2004, he added.

“Technology has changed since 2004 and that has to be factored in to the whole issue of crime,” Copple said.

All Criminal Code violations, including traffic rose to 12,881 in 2009 from 12,846 in 2004 — or a .27 per cent increase.

But the overall crime rate per 100,000 population dropped 20 per cent during this time period.

Copple said that Alberta is the only province to have a Peace Office Act, where no longer special constables are used.

The province uses peace officers and sheriffs — and Red Deer has capitalized on that.

The consultants’ literature review of best practices across Canada, North America and the Commonwealth countries showed that Red Deer is using a number of them, which is also good news, Copple said.

The consultants have been seeking public input through various means, including a web survey through www.reddeer.ca, as well as an upcoming telephone survey. Hard copies of the survey are also on hand at city facilities, including Red Deer Public Library.

A final report is expected in June.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com