The number of total crimes reported to police in Calgary fell by eight per cent in 2008, while violent crimes decreased by five per cent, according to a new Statistics Canada report.

Calgary police spokesman Kevin Brookwell believes the added manpower of 250 additional officers hired over the last few years is having an effect.

  
Metropolitan area  Crime Severity Index  % change
Winnipeg  124.4  -19
Edmonton  122.0  -5
Vancouver  119.0  -9
Montreal  91.2  -3
Calgary  84.7  -8
Source: Statistics Canada

He said the average resident in Calgary has nothing to fear.

"If you are not involved in organized crime or gangs or drugs or any other high-risk lifestyle activity, Calgary is — and has shown through this crime stat report and other reports to be — a very safe city to live and raise your kids," Brookwell said.

Calgary's trend mirrors rates across the country as most metropolitan centres also experienced decreases in their crime rates, said the Statistics Canada report, released Tuesday. Nationally, overall crimes fell five per cent, with violent offences falling three per cent.

The drop in crime can be attributed to aging demographics, says a local criminologist.

Kelly Sundberg, who teaches at Mount Royal College, said most crime is committed by young men, and as they get older, crime rates tend to decrease.

"When we get into our 30s and 40s and beyond, we don't really feel like committing petty crime," Sundberg said. "It shows that we're becoming more — we're more perhaps more peaceful and more community focused and not as inclined to engage in criminal activity."

He also said that any unwarranted fear about crime the public has can be blamed on the media and its emphasis on reporting violent crime.

"We have to be cognizant that when we look at issues of crime, we have to look at the big picture. We can't look at individual instances that a lot of the time are anomalies and you know, get us all into a tizzy," Sundberg said.