Crime stats rise as Red Deer slides on 'Most Dangerous Places' list

By Josh Hall (Twitter: @Vancan19)
November 24, 2017 - 10:15am Updated: December 6, 2017 - 8:54am

Red Deer remains one of Canada’s most dangerous places, according to the latest rankings report from Maclean’s magazine.

Our city is ranked as the fifth most dangerous community in Canada. While that's down from second overall in last year's report, crime stats in Red Deer have actually grown in many categories.

The homicide rate, for example,  went up to 2.89 per 100,000 people with three such incidents in Red Deer last year.

Break and enters were up to a rate of 1,347 per 100,000 people (1,397 incidents), while fraud went up to 757 per 100,000 residents (785 incidents). Trafficking of drugs other than cannabis or cocaine also rose.

Overall, Red Deer’s Crime Severity Index increased to 207, miles higher than the national average of 70.96.

The Violent Crime Severity Index for Red Deer jumped to 149, which ranks 10th out of 229 Canadian cities on the Maclean's list, and is higher than the national average of 75.25.

Red Deer RCMP Superintendent Ken Foster says it's important to remember these numbers are for 2016 and that the detachment is working hard to reverse the negative trends.

"We certainly don't have infinite resources. We have to work smarter and we have to work more strategic," he says. "That's what we're doing through Pinpoint and through the Priority Crimes Task Force. On top of that, one area where we're trying to be very proactive is community engagement and the education of the public."

Foster also stresses how easily just a handful of incidents can skew the index.

"Certainly 5th is better than 2nd, but it's a long ways from where we'd like to be," he says.

Meanwhile, the City's new Protective Services Division is still in its infancy having launched in July, but Director Paul Goranson says the new rankings and numbers in certain areas shouldn't really be a surprise to most people given how much attention Red Deer's crime rate gets.

"Stats show crime is up overall across the country. Alberta is one of the highest increases overall and a number of factors have led to that," Goranson says. "One of the things with the stats is they're really just one tool. We have analysts who look at a more micro level within our community and some of the programs we've put in place, and theyre just starting to see some of the benefits from them."

Areas Red Deer saw decreases in 2016 include assault, sexual assault, firearms offences, robberies, impaired driving, cannabis trafficking, cocaine trafficking and offences related to the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

The only areas where Red Deer placed below the national average were cannabis trafficking and youth offences.

Wetaskiwin is 8th highest on the Crime Severity Index, Sylvan Lake is 38th and Lacombe is 67th, as of the end of 2016.

The Lethbridge region came in at 26th, Medicine Hat sits at 43rd and Camrose is 55th. Edmonton is 31st and Calgary is 93rd.

Grande Prairie has dropped to 12th on the Crime Severity Index after being dubbed Canada’s most dangerous place a year ago, as well as the year before that. 

The top 10 list this time around includes North Battleford, SK at #1, followed by Thompson, MB, Prince Albert, SK, Williams Lake, BC, then Red Deer, Langley City, BC, Portage la Prairie, MB, Wetaskiwin, Vernon, BC, and Selkirk, MB.

The report from Maclean’s ranks communities based on the Crime Severity Index, a Statistics Canada measure of all police-reported crime. It takes into account both volume and seriousness of offences.

UPDATE [LOCATED]: 36-year-old Tina Desjardine of Red Deer

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