Saskatoon is the new crime capital of Canada, according to the latest Crime Severity Index (CSI) from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics.
The 2017 numbers show the Bridge City’s CSI and crime rate did decline from 2016 to 2017, but Saskatchewan’s largest city still took over the worst spot on the rankings because of a larger decline in Regina — the city rated worst in 2016.
The Crime Severity Index is determined through a weighted system based on convictions and the length of sentences.
Saskatoon’s CSI decreased one point between 2016 and 2017 to 115, while Regina’s fell from 123 to 111.9.
The numbers come as no surprise to Saskatoon police chief Troy Cooper.
“It really reflected what we already knew,” he told reporters Monday afternoon.
“We do know from our own experience that those issues around drugs, addiction-fuelled offending is our challenge here.”
He noted “it’s not an honour,” to be in the top spot of the CSI rankings nationwide, and the police service will continue to work at reducing the factors leading to crime in Saskatoon.
Cooper said the first step is to recognize the root causes of offending.
“We know we have a demographic that’s easily victimized, we have issues around addictions and pockets of poverty,” he said.
“Where the police can play a role in some of those things is maybe restrict the access to illicit drugs, we have to work with families and do some preventative work.”
The good news for the city’s police was the overall crime rate in Saskatoon did decrease by about three per cent, according to the statistics.
The violent crime rate fell by 1.69 per cent, property crime fell by 3.63 per cent —after a rise of over seven per cent in 2016— and “other” criminal code violations barely changed with a decrease of 0.2 per cent.
When it came to provincial rankings, Saskatchewan continued to be ranked worst in crime severity with a CSI of 140.5 — a decrease of six points from 2016. The second-worst province was Manitoba, with a CSI of 118.1.
Rural crime did decrease overall according to RCMP, despite gun crime increasing by 71 per cent.