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WINNIPEG CRIME RATE DROP – A False Positive ?

WPS 2013 STAT REPORT (SCREENSHOT)
WPS 2013 STAT REPORT (SCREENSHOT)

I’ve made a point of watching social media since the WPS released their 2013 Annual Statistical Report trumpeting significant reductions in crime.

The social media debate is now raging regarding who deserves the credit.  Are the crime reductions directly attributable to a rookie Police Chief’s departure from traditional Policing philosophies or is the Harper Federal Government’s tough on crime agenda finally bearing fruit?

It’s an interesting debate.

The Numbers;

  • Homicide – 19% decrease
  • 2012 – 31 Homicides vs 2013 – 25 Homicides
  • Robberies – 27% decrease
  • 2012 – 1,822 incidents vs 2013 – 1,335 incidents
  • Kidnapping – 39% decrease
  • 2012 – 80 incidents vs 2013 49 incidents
  • Arson – 37% decrease
  • 2012 – 422 incidents vs 2013 – 266 incidents
  • Break & Enters – 15% decrease
  • 2012 – 4,594 incidents vs 2013 – 3,899 incidents
  • Thefts Over $5,000 – 24% decrease
  • 2012 – 218 incidents vs 2013 – 166 incidents

The Reality;

While any reported crime reduction is worthy of celebration and a certain degree of hope, insightful analysis of the 2013 Stats Canada Crime Report spoils the party.

The report exposes the frailties of a crime challenged Province and extinguishes any rational sense of optimism.

Why the pessimism?

It comes down to four significant crime categories;

  • Violent Crime
  • Homicide
  • Robbery
  • Youth Crime

Violent Crime;

Winnipeg remains the violent crime capital of Canada despite a 19% drop in violent crime from 2013.  Stats Canada reports Winnipeg’s CSI (Crime Severity Index) number at 119.9 per 100,000.  The National average is reported at 73.7 per 100,000.

Homicide;

Winnipeg may have lost the metropolitan murder capital of Canada title to Regina but we still managed to secure second place.  Manitoba remains the Provincial murder capital of Canada by a significant margin and has retained that title for seven (7) years in a row at 3.87 victims per 100,000.  The National average is reported at 1.44 per 100,000.

In Winnipeg, attempt murders were up 55% year over year. (2012-11 vs 2013-17)

Annual fluctuations in Homicide rates are anticipated and offer little in the way of providing insight into criminal trends or patterns in a metropolitan center.  In 2011, Winnipeg set an all time record in Homicides after recording a total of forty-one (41) killings.  Last year, the WPS investigated a total of twenty-five (25) murders.

So what happened over the last three (3) years that contributed to the dramatic 39% decrease?

Can the Police Service take credit?

I don’t think so, the decrease is likely attributable the yin & yang of violent crime more than anything else.  Luck also has a way of factoring into the equation, after all, murder can be a game of inches.

When it comes to measuring the health of a community, Homicide statistics have to be considered important indicators.  It’s clear, the City of Winnipeg and Province of Manitoba have a great deal of work to do to reduce the number of these tragic events.

Robbery;

Winnipeg retains the title of Robbery capital of Canada with a reported 178 robberies per 100,000 people.  Calgary is reported at 69, Edmonton 89, Regina 101, Saskatoon 138 and Vancouver 108.  The national average is reported at 66 per 100,000.

Robbery is another tremendously important crime that can be used to gauge the health of a community.

Robbery is a violent, desperate crime and is often perpetrated by people who have serious drug or alcohol dependency issues.  The outrageous Robbery statistics recorded in Winnipeg tell an important story.  It’s a story about degrees of separation.  Only 1° of separation exists between organized crime, organized criminals, money, drugs and robbery offences.

In Law Enforcement circles, robbery offences and addiction are accepted as two completely interdependent realities.

In the larger context poverty and unemployment are clearly underlying conditions that contribute to the problem.

The Robbery statistics tell us much about how much work still needs to be done.

Youth Crime;

One of the most troubling statistics in the report indicate Manitoba Youths are charged with Homicide at a rate of 13.09 per 100,000 while the national average is 1.67 per 100,000.  In 2013, forty (40) youths were charged with Homicide in Canada.  Thirteen (13) of those youths hailed from the Province of Manitoba.

What do these numbers tell us?

Youth participation in street gangs and youth participation in homicide are also inextricably connected.  Youths who participate in criminal street gangs have proven to present an inordinate risk to public safety by virtue of their propensity to use firearms or edged weapons during the commission of their crimes.  These offenders are also much more likely to reduce their inhibitions by consuming drugs or other intoxicants in their pre-offence activities.  That makes them extremely dangerous, volatile offenders.

Criminal street gangs, youth, weapons, drugs and alcohol create the perfect storm for societal dysfunction and high crime rates.

The evolution of criminal street gangs and use of the “Child Soldiers” have shaped the criminal landscape in the City of Winnipeg.  The broad daylight, cold-blooded, gang related murder of Nigel Dixon on April 2, 2013, by a seventeen (17) year old gangster was a reality check for Police and Politicians in our City.

Exactly who is in control of the streets of Winnipeg?

How safe are we when innocent citizens are be gunned down at 4 o’clock in the afternoon in a high traffic residential neighbourhood?

How bad is the youth gang problem in Winnipeg?

The Statistics Canada Report provides much of the clarity you need.

Until the City of Winnipeg and the Police Service can impact the big four (Crime Severity Index, Homicide, Robbery, Youth Crime) we must temper our enthusiasm for any crime reduction numbers published in the 2013 WPS Annual Statistical Report.

Analysis and experience exposes the usual suspects;

  • Poverty
  • Addiction
  • Unemployment

Until we find a way to deal with these issues we will surely continue to lead the Nation in many unenviable crime categories.

Let’s keep the champagne on ice.

RELATED LINKS:

WPS 2013 Annual Statistical Report

Stats Canada 2013 Crime Statistics

Winnipeg Free Press – James Turner “Winnipeg’s Crime Rate Continues to Drop”

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