The annual statistics from the Prince Albert Police Service show declines in crime against people and several other areas compared to the previous year.
In 2017, total crimes against people were down almost 18 per cent compared to 2016 and residential break and enters were down over 21 per cent.
PAPS chief Troy Cooper said while these stats appear to add to an overall picture of a declining crime trend in recent years it also points to police resources being deployed effectively.
“It shows we put our resources in the right areas such as drug enforcement,” Cooper told paNOW. He said the root cause of much of the city’s crime was ultimately the trafficking of drugs.
That reality may be reflected in the disparity between residential and non-residential break and enters. There were 387 homes broken into in 2017 compared to the 493 in 2016. That’s better news, but when it came to non-residential B and E’s the numbers were up over 33 per cent at 166 compared to 124 the previous year.
“People who are addicted are out every day offending and it’s difficult and scary for them to commit break and enters to residences,” Cooper said. “But it’s easy and it doesn’t take a lot of courage to steal something out of someone’s compound or an unlocked car.”
Ultimately Cooper said arresting offenders was not going to address the heart of much of the crime in the city.
“Those are the people that are committing the bulk of the property crimes [but] we need to focus on the root cause which are the traffickers, the people bringing the drugs into the community,” he said. The annual stats show while drug possession incidents were down 14 per cent, the trafficking of drugs went up from 76 to 89 incidents year over year. That’s an increase of 17 per cent.
Cooper added gang and drug-related activity was also reflected in the 2017 robbery stats which were up 17 per cent over 2016. He said robberies tended to happen in high pedestrian traffic locations
“There’s generally intimidation and physical force used for very small amounts of property and this is often drug and gang related offending,” Cooper said.
Another key lowlight of the crime stats was the amount of alcohol violations which were up 30 per cent at 1,261 compared to the 974 reports in 2016.
Cooper said like the rest of Saskatchewan, there’s too much use and abuse of alcohol which increases the drain on the police service.
“A lot of the officers’ time is spent on things that are non-criminal,” he said.” So if we can try to control irresponsible use of alcohol it certainly helps with police resources.”
Cooper said there would be further deeper analysis of the crime stats in the weeks to come to ensure internally they can focus where best to use their personnel.
For example he said police encountered fewer impaired driving incidents but noted it was important to analyse whether that was because they had fewer officers to attend or actually because there were indeed fewer impaired drivers on the roads.
On Twitter: @princealbertnow
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