HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html B.C.'s Crime Rate Hits 30-Year Low
Pubdate: Wed, 27 Aug 2008
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Catherine Rolfsen


But Gangs Still A Major Concern

The reported crime rate in B.C. is at a 30-year low, according to 
statistics released Tuesday by the provincial government.

But these numbers don't necessarily mean less crime is being 
committed in the province or that police are cracking down more effectively.

A recent report from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics -- a 
body that collects crime numbers from police forces across the 
country -- shows an eight-per-cent decrease in crime rates in B.C. 
between 2006 and 2007. This trend is mirrored across Canada.

Much of this decrease can be attributed to drops in high-volume, 
non-violent crimes like theft, motor vehicle theft, fraud and 
counterfeiting, the report said.

By comparison, B.C.'s drug crime rates -- which have consistently 
been the highest in Canada since the 1980s -- increased in 2007, due 
largely to a spike in possession of cannabis offences.

And the overall rate of violent crime (measured as a proportion of 
the entire population) declined only marginally between 2006 and 2007.

In 2007, police reported 88 homicides across the province, while 68 
were reported in 2006. But the number of attempted murders increased 
to 106 from 88 over the same period.

The violent crime rate is at a 20-year low, the report said.

But the numbers in the report may not reflect the actual instances of 
crime in our communities, said Neil Boyd, the associate director of 
Simon Fraser University's criminology department.

"[For] all the really serious kinds of crime, they're very reliable, 
because that all tends to get reported," he said.

"[For] property crime and drug crime, the police-reported data are 
not terribly reliable because of differences in reporting rates, and, 
with drug crime, changes in enforcement strategies."

Boyd also said changes in a population's demographics -- like the 
current generation of aging baby boomers -- can affect rates of violent crime.

But Solicitor-General and Public Safety Minister John van Dongen said 
he thinks the provincial government's expenditures on crime-fighting 
initiatives like the bait car program, civil forfeiture legislation 
and better access to information for police likely have had some 
impact on the statistics.

He said organized crime remains a worry for the province.

"This is an area of concern to the public and an area that we're 
committed to working on further through our community safety strategy 
and every initiative we can bring to bear," van Dongen said.

But the NDP's critic for public safety, Mike Farnworth, said the 
Liberal government isn't doing enough to tackle the problem.

"We have out of control gangland violence that's taking place in the 
Lower Mainland and parts of this province," he said. "We have 
unsolved murder after unsolved murder after unsolved murder."

Cpl. Dale Carr of the integrated homicide investigation team said 
that while the numbers of potential murders investigated by the force 
remained steady at 43 between 2006 and 2007, so far this year, the 
team already has 44 cases.

Crime rates tracked by type, jurisdiction

- - Overall violent crime dropped four per cent between 2006 and 2007.

- - Overall property crime dropped eight per cent in the same period.

- - Counterfeit currency crimes dropped by 65 per cent, due largely to 
police reporting practices.

- - In 2007, 457,008 criminal code offences were reported.

- - B.C. has the highest rates of drug crime and property crime in the country.

- - B.C. policing jurisdiction with the lowest crime rate: Bowen Island.

- - B.C. policing jurisdiction with the highest crime rate: Surrey's 
provincial RCMP force.
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart