Youth crime in Hamilton was down 5.3 per cent in 2012 compared with the previous year, according to a new report presented to the police services board on Monday.
The findings suggest youth involvement in violent crime fell 14.2 per cent last year. The police also recorded a 13.1 per cent drop in the number of property offences committed by youth.
Drug-related crimes, however, were up one per cent.
This is the third consecutive year in which Hamilton saw a decline in youth crime, reflecting a downward trend that's taking place nationwide.
“We are 54 per cent lower than we were in 1997,” Sgt. Harold Harris, the Hamilton police's youth services coordinator, told board members.
“Really, this is a wonderful report and we're very hopeful about moving forward,” said Madeleine Levy, one of the province's appointees to the board.
Harris attributed the drop in crime to the work of the Hamilton Police Service's ACTION (Addressing Crime Trends in Our Neighbourhoods) Team, as well the Hamilton Restorative Justice Project, which trains people who work with youth in ways to manage and resolve conflicts.
The meeting came after police union head Mike Thomas suggested that frontline officers in the ACTION team be diverted to other areas of the organization in order to deal with council's attempts to rein in the Hamilton police budget.
Police chief Glenn De Caire rejected Thomas's proposal, insisting the team is essential to preventing crime and creating trust between the police and local communities.
“We've recognized that we need frontline capacity. That's why we have 40 officers assigned to this,” De Caire said.
“This is clearly a program that has been well grown within the Hamilton Police Service. We are absolutely committed to continuing.”