Crime stays steady in first half of 2017

Last year’s crime trends have continued into the first six months of 2017, according to June statistics just published by the Prince Albert Police Service.

Prince Albert’s overall crime numbers were virtually unchanged year-on-year, with police reporting 7276 incidents to date – exactly one more than recorded by the end of June 2016.

“Cases are pretty much bang on where they were last year,” said Police Chief Troy Cooper.

But the city saw a downward trend in crimes against persons, including assaults, kidnapping and criminal harassment.

That was balanced by a small jump in property offences, which were up six per cent, and a spike in drug crime, up 21 per cent.

Cooper said that’s the same pattern the force has been seeing one year after another. He said much of it comes down to “people who are addicted to drugs needing to address their habit every day, or multiple times a day.”

Break-and-enters, in particular, have continued to rise. Non-residential break-ins are up 50 per cent year-on-year.

Cooper said there’s been a significant problem with thefts from sheds and other outbuildings.

Property crimes are notoriously difficult to solve. Cooper said the force has made a major push to file charges for related offences, like possession of break-in equipment or possession of stolen property. The specific charge doesn’t matter, he said, as long as his officers bring criminals to justice.

But he calls that a “short-term fix.” He said the police force is more interested in going after root causes. And in Prince Albert, he stressed, that means drugs – especially methamphetamine.

The summer months are usually a busy period for police. June drove up this year’s numbers, but Cooper saw a silver lining. There was less violent crime – and less property crime – compared to June 2015 and 2016.

“The good news is in month-on-month,” he said. “June of this year was a positive trend.”