Calgary

Crime rate rebounds after falling during pandemic lockdown, Calgary police say

After a several-month lull brought on by the pandemic, crime rates in Calgary are slowly beginning to trend upward again, police say.

'We are seeing things trend a little differently since the restrictions have been lifted'

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the way the Calgary Police Service deploys officers, as well as the types of crimes being committed and reported. (Mike Symington/CBC)

After a several-month lull brought on by the pandemic, crime rates in Calgary are slowly beginning to trend upward again, police say.

While Calgarians were stuck at home, beginning in March, both crime and call volumes saw notable reductions.

Deputy Chief of operations Chad Tawfik says violent crime decreased by 17 per cent for the first six months of 2020 and other crimes followed a similar pattern. 

But now, as the province gradually reopens, with children going to school and parents heading back out to their jobs, Tawfic says police are slowly seeing crime rates return to pre-COVID levels.

"Violent and property crimes did go down with the first wave of COVID. We are seeing things trend a little differently since the restrictions have been lifted," he said.

Data released this week by Statistics Canada shows a Canada-wide trend, featuring an overall drop of 16 per cent across 13 Criminal Code categories.

At the height of the pandemic lockdowns, national statistics showed that impaired driving causing death or injury was down 32 per cent, robbery declined 20 per cent, vehicle theft fell 15 per cent and shoplifting dropped 46 per cent.

The Calgary police have been keeping an eye on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected crime in order to reallocate officers where they're most needed, Tawfik said.

He noted there was an expectation that domestic violent crime would increase, but that didn't materialize. 

"The fact that there were a lot more calls around domestic conflict maybe allowed us to intervene earlier," he said.

And while reports of sexual assault were down, reports of voyeurism increased, Tawfik said.

Social disorder complaints, such as reports of suspicious people or vehicles, were also up in Calgary during the early days of the pandemic.

According to Statistics Canada, there was a four per cent increase nationally in calls for domestic disturbances and wellness checks during the first four months of the pandemic.

With files from Helen Pike

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