P.A crime trends falling, but drug and gang-related incidents could be on the rise

Police Chief Troy Cooper at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Arthur White-Crummey/Daily Herald

Crime is decreasing in Prince Albert, but there are still some areas that are a cause for concern.

According to the Prince Albert Police Service year-end statistics released in mid-January, the number of crimes against the person, property crimes and impaired driving offences all fell from 2016 to 2017.

Crimes against the person, which includes homicide, assault, robbery, harassment and threats, fell from 1,224 to 1,007, a difference of 17.73 per cent, from 2016 to 2017.

Property crime, including arson, break-and-enter, theft and fraud also fell, going from 4,078 to 3,763, a difference of 7.72 per cent.

Other categories that saw slight decreases included total drug charges and total traffic violations, including impaired driving.

In total, the umber of incidents fell from 14,712 to 14,245, a difference of 3.17 per cent.

The trend of crime reducing overall is not unique to Prince Albert.

“I think you’ll see them moving in the right direction across the northern part of our province, from Saskatoon north,” P.A. Chief of Police Troy Cooper said. “But there are still some areas that are really concerning to us.”

He indicated the increase in the number of robbery incidents is one of those areas.
There were 11 more robberies, in 2017 than in 2016, an increase of 14.67 per cent. Robbery is defined as theft with violence.

“That’s also reflected in other (city) centres,” Cooper said. “We’ve done some analysis on that, and for the most part it’s drug-related.”

Other increases in particular crimes can also be tied to issues related to drug addiction and gang activity. Firearm possession charges, for instance, increased by 24 per cent, Cooper said.

Non-residential break-and-enters were another cause for concern. That category went from 124 to 166 cases, an increase of 33.87 per cent.

“Non-residential break-and-enters we can relate again back to addictive drugs,” Cooper said. “That’s nothing new. You’ve heard it all across Saskatchewan with rural crime particularly. We felt that in the city as well.”

Another concern for Cooper was the rise in vehicle theft. That increased by 14.11 per cent, jumping from 326 incidents in 2016 to 372 in 2017.

For more on this story, please see the Feb. 7 print or e-edition of the Daily Herald. Watch future editions of the Herald for a more detailed analysis of crime trends when they come before the Police Service Board.