Smithers crime severity index jumps 30 per cent

The town ranked 23rd in the province in 2018 compared to 42nd in 2017

For the first time in four years Smithers saw a significant increase in its crime severity index (CSI), violent crime severity index (VCSI) and non-violent crime severity index (NVCSI).

Data released by Statistics Canada (StatCan) July 22 indicate the CSI for 2018 was 138.41 compared to 105.23 in 2017, a 31.53 per cent bump.

Similarly, the VCSI was up 38.07 per cent and the NVCSI rose 28.74 per cent.

Of the 180 municipalities in British Columbia for which 2018 police-reported statistics are available, this ranks Smithers 23rd in CSI, 21st in VCSI and 24th in NVCSI, up from 42nd, 35th and 48th respectively.

The numbers buck a trend since 2014 of steadily decreasing annual indexes. Sgt. Darren Durnin, acting commander of the Smithers RCMP detachment, provided some more detailed statistics and offered a relatively simple explanation for the uptick.

He noted that, in 2017, local police responded to 58 calls for service for the purpose of preventing violence compared to 178 in 2018. Most of those, 122, were calls for service at the Bulkley Valley District Hospital, whereas in 2017 the hospital only generated 11 calls.

“The hospital will utilize our services for an array of reasons, but include to prevent violence,” Durnin said. “Our presence alone, is, the vast majority of the time, enough to reduce the risk of certain behaviours. At times, one patient, with an extended stay at the hospital, can generate several calls for service as our support for hospital staff can include preventative efforts during meal times and for other matters. This was the case in 2018.

“It appears our efforts to prevent violence are responsible for the reported uptick.”

READ MORE: Sexual assaults, extortion on the rise even as crime rates stay low: Stats Canada

Smaller municipalities have always been skeptical of the meaningfulness of the crime severity indexes noting that a single murder, for example, or a particularly troublesome hospital patient, can skew the numbers dramatically for a town of only 5,300 people and in any given year might not necessarily reflect the overall safety of the community.

Smithers mayor Taylor Bachrach said as much in reaction to this year’s numbers.

“One of the things Sgt. Durnin has cautioned us about is reading too much into the statistics because there are some things that can skew the statistics and paint a picture that isn’t accurate,” Bachrach said.

“Smithers remains a very safe community and certainly, I don’t think there is cause for alarm.”

StatCan acknowledges that taken discreetly, the numbers can be misleading, but nevertheless maintains it is useful in tracking crime trends and the relative safety of communities.

“The Crime Severity Index is also a tool for measuring the increase or decrease in the severity of crime over time in any given jurisdiction, such as provinces and territories, and for comparing the seriousness of crime among jurisdictions,” an article on the StatCan website states.

“Over time, police-reported crime rates have generally been higher in the west and north than in eastern and central regions of the country. This is also true for crime severity, as measured by the new Crime Severity Index.”

Comparing Smithers to national and provincial data for the period 2014-2018, the town’s 131.46 average CSI is nearly double the Canadian average of 71.58 and 68 per cent higher than B.C.’s 89.9 average.

The Smithers average is also very close to Lethbridge, Alta.’s 2018 CSI of 137. Last year, Lethbridge ranked as Canada’s most dangerous census metropolitan area (CMA), or city with more than 100,000 population.

Quesnel ranked number 1 in the province this year with a CSI of 291.83 displacing Hope which topped the list last year at 253.25.

StatCan started tracking the crime severity indexes as a better reflection of the relative safety of communities in 1998.

Nearly 40 per cent of police-reported crimes in Canada are theft under $5,000 and mischief. The calculation of the severity indexes gives lesser weight to these types of crimes and more to violent and serious crimes.

Although the national statistics organization has gotten away from using crime rate, which treated each type of incident equally, it does continue to publish the raw data.

In terms of numbers of actual incidents, there were 949 crimes reported to police last year in Smithers, a crime rate of 16,832 per 100,000 population.

Police cleared 404 of those files (42.6 per cent), 148 by laying charges and 256 by other means. A total of 149 individuals were charged with crimes.

READ MORE: Darren Durnin gives RCMP quarterly update for Smithers at May 14 town council meeting

B.C.’s big cities, Kelowna, Abbotsford-Mission, Vancouver and Victoria ranked 6th, 10th, 13th and 23rd respectively among Canada’s 36 CMAs.

The Top 5 CMAs in the country were: Lethbridge; Regina, Sask.; Winnipeg, Man.; Saskatoon, Sask.; and Edmonton, Alta.

The Top 10 among all police jurisdictions in B.C. were: Quesnel, Williams Lake, Agassiz, Hope (rural), Fort St. James, Alexis Creek, Hope (municipal), Duncan, Terrace and Dawson Creek.

Ucluelet had the highest VCSI in the province and Quesnel took top spot for NVCSI.



editor@interior-news.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Caledonia Secondary School students recognized with broadcast award

Media arts class partnered with CTFK TV, RCMP to air PSA video campaign

Chevron move to exit Kitimat LNG project a dash of ‘cold water’ for gas industry

Canada Energy Regulator approved a 40-year licence to export natural gas for Kitimat LNG

New report into sawmill explosions released

The report recommends streamlining investigative process

No parole for 12 years for Burns Lake man convicted of second degree murder

Judge said he did not believe Albert Giesbrecht’s claim his gun discharged accidentally

Snowfall warning continues for parts of B.C.’s Interior

First significant snowfall of the season prompts Environment Canada warning

‘A loud sonic boom’: Gabriola Island residents recount fatal plane crash

Area where the plane went down is primarily a residential neighbourhood, RCMP say

‘Honest mistake:’ RCMP says B.C. cannabis shop can keep image of infamous Mountie

Sam Steele wearing military, not RCMP uniform in image depicted in Jimmy’s Cannabis window

B.C. conservation officers put down fawn blinded by BB gun on Vancouver Island

Young deer found near construction site in Hammond Bay area in Nanaimo, B.C.

Laid-off forest workers converge on B.C. legislature

Loggers call for action on strike, provincial stumpage

B.C. guide fined $2K in first conviction under new federal whale protection laws

Scott Babcock found guilty of approaching a North Pacific humpback whale at less than 100 metres

Feds urge Air Canada to fix booking problems as travel season approaches

The airline introduced the new reservation system more than three weeks ago

Almost 14,000 Canadians killed by opioids since 2016: new national study

17,000 people have been hospitalized for opioid-related poisoning

B.C. cities top the list for most generous in Canada on GoFundMe

Chilliwack took the number-two spot while Kamloops was at the top of the list

Penticton RCMP warn of new ‘porting’ scam that puts internet banking, online accounts at risk

Two-factor verification has been the go-to way to keep online accounts secure

Most Read