Despite a major increase in gun violence last year, overall crime in Saskatchewan’s rural areas is down.
According to recent 2017 numbers released by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, overall crime is down three per cent in the province as a whole, which includes a three per cent reduction in areas served by RCMP. Property crime also decreased by five per cent.
But there was a massive increase in gun crimes from 2016 to 2017 — a 71 per cent jump.
RCMP Cpl. Rob King said it’s impossible to speculate on the cause for this and said there’s many societal factors which could come into play.
“We saw this trend happening last year before the numbers came out and we took significantly large steps to try and combat it,” King said.
A few of those steps included the crime reduction team, which targets prolific offenders and targeted enforcement in certain areas, and the newly-formed provincial response team.
“Hopefully that will have a significant impact over the next year or so.”
While King said the number of gun offences is concerning, he did note that so far in 2018 they haven’t seen the same amount of gun crimes so far.
Despite a rise in gun crimes, there was a sharp decrease in the number of homicides — going from 35 in 2016 to 22 in 2017.
According to Statistics Canada, crime is 36 per cent higher in rural areas than in urban ones in Saskatchewan.
King said one of the major differences between urban and rural officers is the response times to a reported incident.
“If you call for service in Saskatoon or Regina and it’s something serious you’re probably going to have someone there within five to 10 minutes, in the rural areas it could be 25 to 30 minutes, possibly more depending on where members are,” King said.
Cooperation between different police services and with the public are important to the work done by the RCMP.
“You target your enforcement on where your intelligence leads you.”
In the province, Saskatchewan saw a six per cent decrease to its Crime Severity Index. North Battleford, however, remains at the top of Crime Severity Index for communities with a population over 10,000 in Canada.