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Alberta justice minister goes on tour to talk about rural crime

Alberta's justice minister is promising to boost the ranks of Crown prosecutors to help combat rural crime as he tours the province to talk to Albertans most affected by the issue.

'There's real concern about safety in their communities'

Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer is on a tour to talk to Albertans about rural crime. (CBC)

Alberta's justice minister is promising to boost the ranks of Crown prosecutors to help combat rural crime as he tours the province to talk to Albertans most affected by the issue.

Doug Schweitzer kicked off a month-long tour Thursday night in Bragg Creek, where he met with local officials.

"The feedback that we get from people is that there's real concern about safety in their communities. They're worried about cases being dropped, justice not being pursued," he said.

"So that's one of the big things that we're going to make sure we do is make sure we give our prosecutors the resources that they need by hiring 50 new prosecutors as well as giving the police the resources that they require to do their job and freeing up police time as much as we can so they can be on the streets."

The crime rate is 38 per cent higher in rural Alberta than it is in urban areas, according to a report released in May by Statistics Canada.

The police-reported crime rate in rural parts of Alberta was 10,964 per 100,000 people in 2017. In urban areas of Alberta, the rate was 7,920 per 100,000. 

The government says it recognizes the vulnerability of Albertans living in rural areas and hopes to gain insight into their concerns by visiting areas and talking to people across the province. (CBC)

The minister plans to visit 18 rural and urban communities throughout the month but says more stops may be added.

Rockyview County Reeve Greg Boehlke said he talked about organized crime, drug addiction and policing with the minister and was pleased the province is taking interest.

"I was really impressed by the fact that the minister came out and is interested in finding out," he said. "They're going around the province finding out what people really think and they want to make some conscious changes."

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