RCMP at the scene of a shooting in April at a Penticton apartment complex where one man died. Western News file photo

Penticton gets high crime severity rating

According to Statistics Canada, Penticton’s crime severity rating is second highest in the Okanagan

Penticton is one of the leading cities in the Okanagan Valley when it comes to the Crime Severity Index, just released by Statisitics Canada.

The 2016 Crime Severity Index shows that Penticton’s CSI has changed little from 2015, but the trend is upwards, increasing 2.7 points this year to 145.92, up 37.51 points since 2013, the last year a decline was noted.

The Crime Severity Index tracks not only the change in volume of a particular crime but the relative seriousness of that crime in comparison to other crimes. According to the University of Waterloo’s Index of Wellbeing, research shows that higher levels of crime severity substantially reduce personal and community quality of life. Having a low CSI score is an indicator of community vitality.

The overall CSI for B.C. in 2016 was 93.63, putting Penticton ahead of the curve with a CSI of 145.92, the second highest of any community in the Okanagan Valley. Vernon tops the list at 156.99, Kelowna, 115.60; Osoyoos, 109.66; Oliver, 94.13 and Summerland, 63.33.

Princeton received a score of 123.39. By comparison, Surrey has a CSI of 116.99.

“I think the town hall meeting we had on public safety was a good first step as a community to address the situation,” said Mayor Andrew Jakubeit, adding that his column last week about putting pressure on the province to be harsher on prolific offenders already garnered the attention of public safety minister and solicitor general Mike Farnworth’s office.

“As a city, we are facilitating an action committee to deal with mental health, addictions and homelessness as they have a correlating impact on protective services and crime.”

Jakubeit also said now that Insp. Ted de Jager has settled into his new position, the expectation is to see crime statistics improve.

According to Statistics Canada the traditional police-reported crime rate — column relative to population size — remained stable in 2016. Since peaking in 1991, Canada’s crime rate has been on a downward trend, with the only increases reported in 2003 and 2015.

Looking at the separate CSI for violent and nonviolent crime, Penticton is still ahead of the provincial averages, at 87.92 (74.86 province) and 166.73 (100.27 province). Summerland came in with the lowest CSI for violent crime at 16.92 and non-violent at 80.09.

The two per cent cross-Canada increase in non-violent CSI in 2016, according to Statistics Canada is due to more police-reported incidents of fraud, which grew for the fifth consecutive year.

The rate of police-reported incidents of total fraud, which includes general fraud, identity fraud and identity theft, was 14 per cent higher than in 2015.

Fraud may be increasing, but cannabis-related crimes declined for the fifth consecutive year. In 2016, there were about 6,000 fewer cannabis-related offences than the previous year.

The rate of cannabis offences may be going down, but its use by Canadians has not. According to the biannual Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drug Survey, about 12 per cent of the population over age 15 used cannabis in the past year, up from 11 per cent that reported using in 2013.