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Telkwa council cautiously vigilant on crime stats

Crime severity was up, but reporting changes may be the cause, mayor says

Telkwa council will be keeping an eye on its crime severity index following its most recent quarterly report from Sgt. Darren Durnin, acting commander of the Smithers RCMP detachment.

Durnin told council the severity index for the village was up approximately 20 to 25 per cent in 2018 over 2017 following the release last month of the latest police-reported crime statistics from Statistics Canada StatCan.

But Mayor Brad Layton said, while council is concerned, it is not time to press the panic button.

“Basically it became apparent that these stats this year are like oranges, the stats we had from 2017 are the apples, so we’re not comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges, Layton said. “So, part of it is the scoring system made things jump. And we don’t know how much and [Durnin] couldn’t tell us how much. So really next year’s stats are gonna be really important for us to look at to see whether they’re … going up or whether that’s the new standard based on how they report.”

“In 2017, Statistics Canada, in collaboration with police services, amended the definition of “founded” criminal incidents in the UCR (Uniform Crime Reporting Survey),” explains the StatCan website. “The new definition, which represents a commitment to a victim-centred approach for crime, includes incidents where there is no credible evidence to confirm that an incident did not take place and those based on third-party reports. The changes also provided new scoring options for police to explain why an incident was not cleared (meaning solved).”

Telkwa falls under the Smithers RCMP rural jurisdiction. In 2018, the crime severity index was 49.46, up from 28 in 2017, a jump of 76.64 per cent for the entire rural area.

That makes Smithers rural only 143rd out of 181 police jurisdictions with reported incidents in 2018.

For context, the Town of Smithers was 23rd in province with a CSI of 138.41.

In 2017, Smithers rural had the fourth lowest CSI in the province.

Layton said council will be keeping tabs on the issue.

“We’ve definitely got it in our [sights] that we need to be looking at it,” Layton said.

“We’ll see next year when the 2019 stats come out. We’ll be looking to see, are we in an upward climb or is this just the new norm?”

Thom Barker

About the Author: Thom Barker

After graduating with a geology degree from Carleton University and taking a detour through the high tech business, Thom started his journalism career as a fact-checker for a magazine in Ottawa in 2002.
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