The Prince Albert Police Service continues to focus on high-visibility, proactive policing across our community as we start the New Year. Statistics ending December 2021 continue to reflect an increasing number of calls for service and an upward trend in violence and property crime, although PAPS recorded the lowest number of break and enters in five years.
Statistical data for 2021 is included on the February 1 agenda for the Prince Albert Board of Police Commissioners monthly meeting. To the end of 2021, police officers responded to just over 41,100 calls for service, including disturbances, suspicious incidents, weapons complaints, assaults and more serious incidents of violence. This represents an increase of 1.76% over 2020.
In 2021, our police service responded to a tragic nine homicides, each of which left loved ones and friends devastated and shocked our community. Investigators with the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) have laid charges in seven of these homicides and continue to investigate, in addition to suspicious missing persons files and other serious incidents of assault.
Looking back at 2021, we see that overall violent crime was down slightly in 2021, including a 3.58 per cent decrease in the number of victims of assaults. The Prince Albert Police Service continues to target illegal activity, gang activity, weapons and drug trafficking, and abuse against children through targeted enforcement units and partnerships with other agencies.
There were 418 reported break and enters last year, a decrease of just over 16 per cent from 2020, with decreases noted in the number of break and enters to homes, businesses, and outbuildings across the city. This is the lowest number of break and enters in Prince Albert.
Property crimes, such as wilful damage, theft under $5,000, and thefts of motor vehicles, continued to trend upward in 2021. Due to the pandemic and government restrictions, many businesses and organizations remained closed in 2020, leading to different crime trends in our community.
Poverty, addictions, and mental health concerns continue be a significant factor in the number of property crimes reported each year.
The past year also saw a significant increase in the number of reports involving voyeurism, or the sharing of sexual images without consent. Reports of voyeurism increased from two in 2020 to 11 in 2021, in part due to improved public awareness about the consequences of sharing intimate images. Police continue to caution the public on the dangers of sharing illicit content.
Moving forward, the Prince Albert Police Service continues to focus on high-visibility policing and proactive partnerships to address root-cause issues within the community. The new Proactive Policing Unit (PPU), which was approved by City Council in mid-2021 is now active and is focused on addresses with high calls for service, crime trends, and targeted enforcement.
This new police unit, while still in its early stages, has already seen success working with homeowners and landlords to reduce calls for service at residential and business addresses, initiate proactive patrols around high-traffic areas across the city – including the downtown bus transfer station and busy shopping areas – and connect individuals who are homeless with supports and services that can help.
In addition, the Prince Albert Police Service’s Community Policing Unit remains focused on visible policing, working with business owners and organizations to address crime trends and enhance features such as better security and lighting to deter damage and thefts. And, Community Safety Officers (CSO) support patrol officers in addressing property crime such as graffiti, wilful damage, and shoplifting, and promote safety through regular community patrols. Two police officers continue to work with trained health professionals through the Police and Crisis Team (PACT) to respond to calls involving trauma and mental health-related concerns.
PAPS Traffic officers and Combined Traffic Services Saskatchewan (CTSS) members continue to work to proactively promote road safety. Traffic violations accounted for the majority of ticket violations in 2021.
The police service has hired more than a dozen new patrol officers over the past year to support our community and complement other investigative units. Five officers were hired through newly-funded positions, while others have been hired to fill vacancies due to retirements or resignations.
Recruiting efforts are ongoing as we strive to better reflect the community we serve while focusing on public safety and high-visibility policing.
To read the 2021 statistical report in its entirety, please click here.