Hamilton

Youth crime down in Hamilton, but violent youth crime rising

Youth crime levels dropped at a rate almost triple the national average last year, new statistics from Hamilton police show — but violent crime involving young people is still on the rise.

Number of drug offences involving young people also down

Hamilton police say youth crime in Hamilton has dropped at a rate well below the national average, but violent youth crime continues to rise. (David Ritchie)

Youth crime levels dropped at a rate almost triple the national average last year, new statistics from Hamilton police show — but violent crime involving young people is still on the rise.

According to the service's year-end report on youth, 1,310 Hamiltonians aged 12 to 17 were involved in a crime in 2018, which is a 14.3 per cent decrease from the year before.

That's compared to a national drop of five per cent.

While crime among young people dropped on the whole in Hamilton, violent crime levels surged — just like they did the year prior.

According to the report, 508 young people were involved in violent crimes last year, compared to 473 in 2017. Of those 508 people, 220 were charged with a violent crime, while 56.7 per cent received an "extrajudicial measure" instead.

"The Hamilton Police Service continued to find new ways to engage and educate youth to decrease youth crime and violent crimes, wherever possible," the report says.

"The Hamilton Police Service school liaison officers, community youth officers, and divisional youth officers have continued to participate in intelligence-led policing initiatives, liaising with front-line officers in areas including the strategic targeted offender program and school drug sweeps."

(Hamilton police)

Drug offences saw a huge decrease last year, dropping 27.9 per cent. Cannabis legalization no doubt played a part in that.

Between January and mid-October, 117 young people were involved in drug offences, with 21 charged with an offence. Of those, 13 were cannabis-related.

Post legalization, no youth were charged with any drug offences, police say.

The report also lays out how Hamilton police officer conducted random drug sweeps at local schools. 

Last year there were 41 such sweeps with 30 people arrested. Only two students were charged, with the rest either being cautioned or sent to "pre-charge diversion."

Police say officers seized 75.5 grams of pot, ten "other drugs," 19 "drug items" and two weapons.

That's actually down from 2017, when police conducted 103 drug sweeps in schools, where three young people were charged.

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