By Mabell, Dave on November 20, 2019.
The reports are not positive. The number of crimes reported across Canada has increased two per cent year over year.
But in many Western Canadian communities – including Lethbridge – the situation is getting worse. Statistics Canada data, cited in an annual report in Maclean’s magazine, shows Lethbridge now ranks No. 15 on the list of “most dangerous places.”
North Battleford, Sask., has the dubious distinction of being ranked No. 1, but Wetaskiwin is fourth-worst while Grande Prairie is ninth and Red Deer 10th.
Focusing on “violent crime” statistics alone, the report places Lethbridge in 34th spot. Other Alberta cities including Wetaskiwin, Grande Prairie and Edmonton saw proportionately more incidents, the magazine feature notes.
But many larger cities including Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal were further down the list with greater success in reducing “violent crime” issues, in the per-capita ranking.
And once again, says Mayor Chris Spearman, the report points to the urgent need for drug treatment and rehabilitation facilities in Lethbridge.
Lethbridge police are doing all they can to arrest drug dealers and deal with other drug-related crime, he said. The City has been asking the province to locate a drug-house response team here, the mayor pointed out.
And it continues to press the Alberta government for rehabilitation facilities like those operating in Calgary and Edmonton, allowing opioid users and others to reclaim their lives.
“We lack the resources to do that,” and the statistics show the impact that’s making.
“We need to shut down the drug houses. And we need to get people on the road to recovery.”
The report illustrated the results of inaction. Lethbridge ranked 15th in the nation for common assaults and 15th for reported break-and-enter cases.
On the up side, Lethbridge now ranks 232nd for homicides on the list of 237 Canadian communities with a population of 10,000 or more.
Lethbridge Police Service officials were not available Tuesday for comment.
Maclean’s analyzes Uniform Crime Reporting Survey data from StatCan each year to learn where serious crime reports are most frequent, on a per capita basis, and whether the situation is improving or not. And it uses the federal agency’s “crime severity index” rather than the “general crime rate” sometimes used by police agencies.
When looking at Lethbridge numbers over the past five years, the analysts say Lethbridge – with a crime severity index of 159 compared to the national average of 75 – has the nation’s fifth-poorest record in reversing a negative trend. Wetaskiwin tops that list with a CSI rating of 270; Edmonton is No. 21 with a CSI of 129 and Calgary is 26th with a 90.
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