Crime rate rises

Red Deer’s robbery rate doubled in a year, while sexual assaults fell more than 17 per cent, according to statistics released on Tuesday.

Red Deer’s robbery rate doubled in a year, while sexual assaults fell more than 17 per cent, according to statistics released on Tuesday.

The City of Red Deer numbers for Jan. 1 to Oct. 31, 2012, show that several major crime categories declined over the same period last year.

There have been two homicides this year compared to four during the same 2011 period.

Sexual assaults numbered 131 to Oct. 31, 2011, while the number was 108 for the 2012 period. This amounted to a 17.6 per cent decline.

Robbery numbers doubled in the 2012 period. There were 80 for the 2011 period while this year that number jumped to 162.

Assault numbers rose by six per cent, with 1,637 being reported during the first 10 months of 2012. Last year, the number was 1,540.

Other statistics that saw significant increases (Jan.1 to Oct. 31, 2011, in parentheses): criminal harassment — 542 (447); fraud — 852 (661); theft of motor vehicles — 492 (354); break-ins — 990 (787); theft over $5,000 — 85 (49); theft under $5,000 — 3,950 (3,323); and mischief to property — 3,281 (2,864).

Marked declines show up in other crimes: other sexual offences — 15 (45); arson — 35 (46); possession of drugs — 530 (622); drug trafficking — 379 (477).

Community Services director Greg Scott said the key statistic within these 10 months is that total crimes against persons climbed 8.7 per cent. The number of offences for the 2012 period was 3,111, from 2,862 in 2011.

“Fortunately, the violent crime so far has been down,” Scott said on Tuesday. “But other areas have increased, which isn’t uncommon when you look at a five-year trend. Some numbers have gone up, some have gone down, based on what is happening in the community.”

The city plans to use the statistics, along with other crime prevention data, to put together some initiatives in the next couple of years.

“We hope this will help a significant impact on safety,” said Scott.

The city created a Safety Charter as part of its 2012-14 Strategic Direction. The Safety Charter’s goal is to promote a safe community through active citizen participation. Among the outcomes expected are: developing a Social Master Plan by 2014, and improved response by the police and allied agencies to individuals with mental health issues.

“Crime is just one factor in measuring the overall safety of a city, but its impacts are important to everyone, and we need to continue to work together to identify crime prevention and enforcement programs that work for Red Deer,” said Mayor Morris Flewwelling.

The Crime Prevention and Policing Review approved in 2011 identified options and alternatives related to community safety, and that work continues to develop solutions that will work for Red Deer.

In October, council reviewed the next step for crime prevention and community safety that will assess the current situation, gather community input, review best practices and provide a framework for establishing a community-based Red Deer model to help make the city a safer place.

The city will release statistics on crime on a more regular basis, thanks to a new crime analyst position approved in the 2012 municipal budget. That person was hired in the summer, said Scott.