Today, the Canadian Centre for Justice and Community Safety Statistics (Statistics Canada) released the 2021 Crime Statistics and the Crime Severity Index (CSI) values for Canada. The annual rankings use police-reported data to compare the severity of crime and violent crime in approximately 300 communities with populations over 10,000.
The annual rankings are based on the ratio of crime versus the core population of each community. In Prince Albert, 2021 Census figures show our population is just over 37,700 residents.
Prince Albert was ranked 3rd for violent crime in 2021, up from 2020, and 10th for non-violent crime. The non-violent crime rate, which includes property crime and drug possession offences for example, remains unchanged from 2020.
The rankings do not reflect this current year.
Overall, Prince Albert ranks fourth among communities with a core population over 10,000 people. In the last 10 years, Prince Albert also ranked fourth overall in 2017 and 2014, and third in both 2016 and 2011. In 2015, we ranked second for overall crime.
The 2021 rankings reflect an upward trend in violent crime that our service, and others across western Canada, continue to see. As our police members respond to an increasing number of calls for service each year, we continue to see more files involving guns, weapons, drugs and violence given the core population numbers for our community.
For the third consecutive year, the national homicide rate has increased, with the highest rates noted in Saskatchewan (5.93 homicides per 100,000 people) and Manitoba (4.41 homicides per 100,000 population).
The number of homicides continues to be higher amongst Indigenous and racialized people.
While we have seen improvements in our overall ranking, dropping to 7th in 2020, and 6th in both 2019 and 2018, combatting violent crime remains a priority for our police service and we continue to work with our agency and safety partners across the province to promote public safety and target gang activity, weapons violence, and property crime.
On average, the Prince Albert Police Service continues to police a much larger community than Census statistics show. Our retail population, or the number of people who come to our community each day for services, medical appointments, or entertainment, is closer to 190,000 people.
We continue to work to fill vacancies and add to our front-line response. Since last fall, two experienced officers have joined our service from other agencies, and seven new recruits have completed police college and started working on Patrol. Another four new police recruits were hired in July and begin training in Regina this week.
“We continue to track crime trends on a daily basis and our focus remains on proactive engagement and initiatives that support prevention and public safety,” said Chief of Police Jonathan Bergen. “We know we are not alone in working to address the challenges our community is facing, and we continue to work with governments at all levels and our community to engage on solutions and initiatives that support the health and safety of all residents.”