After a decade of decline, Regina’s crime rate has started to creep back in the upward direction.
City police shared new statistics Wednesday comparing the last 10 years. While total reported crime was down 12.1 per cent during that time, over the last year it climbed back up 6.6 per cent.
“Our crime rate is lower today than it was 10 years ago and even 20 years ago by a substantial amount. However, we’re seeing a small increase in some areas and a larger increase in others so we don’t want it to get back to where it once was,” responded Chief Evan Bray.
Attempted murder and sexual offences are both at 10-year highs. Robbery, theft and motor vehicle theft have also been steadily going up.
“The public doesn’t have to worry, but we all need to be concerned and stay vigilant on crime,” Bray said.
Mayor Michael Fougere echoed that sentiment.
“We have a safe city, but we have work to do,” he said.
Fougere added it’s hard to say whether these increases may continue in the future, considering they thought last year’s spike was simply a blip. Now with a second year where many crimes have gone up, he said it could be a trend.
Bray told media police are actively trying to fix those areas where increases have occurred. That begins with addressing what the chief believes are the root causes.
“Everything revolves and spins around and is affected by one or two things in our community. Drugs and guns right now are the two areas that we really need to focus on.”
If police get a handle on those two, will that lead to a drop? The mayor thinks it’s hard to measure, but is optimistic.
“We do know that there’s more crime with guns now than there was three or four years ago so it’s not hard to make the connection that it should have, we hope has an implication on less crime,” Fougere said.
Last year there were 141 violent offences where a firearm was used; a 94 per cent increase from the five-year average. In total, 343 guns were seized during that time representing a 31 per cent increase compared to the five-year average.
Police are already taking action on addressing guns, holding a firearms amnesty to help get unwanted guns off the street.
“We’re trying to get some firearms out of our community, out of the hands of people that possess them but don’t want them,” Bray said. “It’s just a way to try and keep these guns from falling in the hands of the wrong people.”
The initiative will be held from Feb. 1 – 15. Any guns, replica guns and ammunition will be accepted by police, who will come to homes to pick weapons up and then destroy them. Other items like bear spray and machetes can also be given to officers.
During the two weeks, Regina police won’t charge individuals in relation to the unauthorized possession or licensing of firearms.
“People are a bit apprehensive to come in to the police service and say, ‘Hey, I have a gun in my closet at home’ because they’re worried about repercussions on them; they’re not storing it properly, they don’t have a license to possess it,” Bray said.
As an added incentive, those who turn in their guns will either get a one month bus or leisure centre pass.