Regina has spent three of the past five years at the very top of Canada’s crime severity index, but 2017’s numbers, released Monday morning, show an improvement.
The Queen City dropped from the top of the list to third.
While most census metropolitan areas (CMA) in Canada saw increases in severe crime, Regina posted the second largest decrease among CMAs in Canada.
The numbers are taken for CMA’s, so for the purposes of these statistics, the city of Regina’s numbers are combined with places like White City, Lumsden, and Pense.
The total crime severity index and total crime rate in Regina were both down from 2016 to 2017 by 11 per cent and 7 per cent respectively.
Crime rates show the actual number of events per 100,000 residents, while the index gives more context in that it weighs serious crimes like murder more heavily than those like breaking and entering.
The drop for Regina was spurred in part by a 34 per cent drop in robbery rates, and a 15 per cent drop in motor vehicle theft rates year over year.
Mayor Michael Fougere is pleased with the drop, praising the Regina Police Service’s enforcement and programs and Chief Evan Bray for his work in particular.
For his part, Bray said there is more work to be done. Speaking to media on Monday, he focused on some of the crime issues that exist in Regina.
More sexual assault cases reported
The sexual assault rate went up slightly in Regina by seven per cent, but it went up across Canada as well, 13 per cent overall.
Bray said there are two reasons for the increase: one was a national spotlight on unfounded sexual assault cases – a classification given when police decide an offence did not occur.
“Lots of police services did their own audit to determine if there were some changes that they needed to make and we made quite a few significant changes here in terms of the environment, the location in which a sexual assault is reported, the manner in which they’re investigated, even the training that we give our investigators for investigating a sexual assault,” explained Bray.
Numbers also released on Monday from Stats Canada showed about 14 per cent of sexual assaults reported in 2017 were deemed unfounded by police – down from 19 per cent in 2016.
Another reason sexual assault rates were up, according to Bray, is social media movements, such as #metoo, which provided support and encouraged people to come forward to report crimes.
“It’s shown a solidarity, not just in Canada, but the world, that this is not okay, that this should not be happening.”
Police see significant increase in drug issues
The drug offence rate in Regina was up slightly as well by two per cent, however Bray said the only reason there’s a slight increase is because the rest of the country is also having drug problems.
Bray said Regina has seen a significant increase in drug problems.
“It has less to do with marijuana and more to do with methamphetamine – which is a big one in our community – opioids, and obviously fentanyl. And we know the danger that that brings to our community as well.”
Members of the Regina Police Service have spoken many times before about the increase in meth use and trafficking and how it’s connected to guns and gangs in Regina.
When it comes to drugs, Bray said police enforce the law but that’s not the only thing they’re doing to tackle the problem.
“Enforcement is one piece of it, but we need to be able to try and find ways to help those that are addicted and if we can do that, that, I think, cuts the legs off the drug market in our city.”
He talked about intervention programs the police run for at-risk youth in Regina, along with programs to help people with mental illnesses, and early intervention programs for people at acute risk.
Bray discussed the numbers as a whole, saying the crime severity index is just indicator to let Regina police know how they’re doing. He said police also keep their own stats and conduct community perception surveys.
Bray said, overall, he feels Regina is a safe city.