Violent crime, drug offences down; property crime up

The Crime Severity Index by Statistics Canada measures the volume and severity of police-reported crime

Violent crimes decreased dramatically in the region over the past few years, according to the latest Crime Severity Index (CSI) from Statistics Canada – which measures the volume and severity of police-reported crime.

The news is not entirely positive, however, as the number of property crimes – specifically break and enters – has increased over that same period.

In 2010, the number of incidents police responded to that qualified as “violent Criminal Code violations” – which include any violation causing death, sexual assaults, violations against children, abductions, threats and illegally discharging a weapon, for example – was 730.

That number has dropped every year since and was down to 469 in 2014.

Property crime, however – which includes breaking and entering, possession of stolen property, motor vehicle theft, mischief and fraud, for example – has remained an issue within the community.

Police addressed 1,448 incidents in 2014, up slightly from the 1,432 in 2013.

Part of that increase has to do with break and enters being significantly on the rise again, according to the CSI. After decreasing almost 50 per cent between 2010 and 2013, 184 break and enters were addressed by police in 2014, an increase of over 50 per cent from the 116 the year before and the highest number seen since 2010, when 201 incidents were reported.

Motor vehicle theft saw an even larger increase. Sixty cars were stolen in Campbell River in 2014, more than double the 28 stolen the year before.

Drug violations are seemingly on the decrease, however. Police responded to 192 “incidents” involving illegal substances in 2014 compared to 318 the year before. Of the 192, 135 were for “possession of cannabis.”

Nationally, crime numbers are at the lowest they’ve been since 1969. The total number of violations reported by police are down 31 per cent since 2004.

Unfortunately, two categories are significantly on the rise nation-wide.

Instances of “possession of heroin” have seen a 140 per cent rise in the past 10 years, while instances of “child pornography” have increased a whopping 264 per cent.

The release of the 2014 crime statistics by Statistics Canada was accompanied by a release by the British Columbia Integrated Child Exploitation Unit (BC ICE) echoing the national child pornography statistics, citing “a troubling number of people in the province exchanging digital child pornography.”

Between April 1 and Sept. 31 of last year, the release says, BC ICE investigators tracked “known illegal material” that would qualify as child pornography being exchanged online and found 1,228 unique instances of the material being shared in B.C.

“The extent of the problem is disturbing,” said Inspector Ed Boettcher, officer in charge of BC RCMP Communications. “A single exchange of material where a child was victimized is too many, this many instances over a six month period is tragic.”

Investigations are ongoing in an attempt to prosecute offenders, Boettcher says in the release.

“For those that think they can engage in this type of criminal act and hide, you should know that we have the expertise to find you. You will be held accountable for taking part in these heinous criminal acts.”

The full crime statistics report can be found at here.