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The disbanding of a province-wide traffic unit could be part of the issue, says RCMP Sgt. Andrew Blackadar. (CBC)

There has been a 20 per cent increase in criminal complaints in Stratford, east of Charlottetown, and that's one reason RCMP issued fewer traffic tickets, say RCMP.

In the first six months of this year ticketing for summary offences, most of which are traffic-related, by RCMP were down 30 per cent. June was an especially slow month: just 16 tickets this year when there were 49 in June 2011.

Some town councillors were concerned the decline was connected to disbanding of the four-officer province-wide traffic unit in April.

Coun. Emile Gallant, chair of Stratford's safety services committee, said there are a number of issues covered by the traffic unit.

"Those tickets are all related not only to speeders but also if somebody doesn't have a registration," said Gallant.

"So if they don't set up, and they're not doing it, then these people are not being caught."

Stratford still has an RCMP presence. Six officers are assigned to patrol the bedroom community.

But the community's population has been growing, and the number of officers hasn't kept up, said Sgt. Andrew Blackador of the RCMP. He acknowledged the closing of the traffic unit could be part of the issue, but noted the overall call for service is up 20 per cent.

"So as you can imagine if our police officers are even tied up with three or four more criminal code calls per week that's going to tie up a lot more investigation time which means the traffic law enforcement is going to be secondary," said Blackador.

"There's no ifs, ands, or buts. 

There's one officer for every 1,500 people in Stratford, while Charlottetown has one officer for every 560 residents.