Winnipeg's violent crime rises in 2015, police report says
Domestic violence charges up in 2015 along with kidnapping cases and assault, report indicates
Violent crime is up in Winnipeg, according to the latest report from the Winnipeg Police Service.
The service released its 2015 statistical report on Wednesday, revealing a six per cent increase in police-reported violent crime and a nine per cent increase in police-reported property crime last year.
Deputy Chief Danny Smyth said it's the first time in about a decade Winnipeg has seen an increase in crime, but according to figures released by Statistics Canada Wednesday, the city isn't alone.
Eight of the 13 provinces and territories saw increased crime rates in 2015, with Alberta, New Brunswick, the North West Territories and Saskatchewan leading the pack. Alberta saw an 18 per cent increase on Statistics Canada's crime severity index.
"When we compare this to other cities, Winnipeg has high rates of homicide, robbery and sexual assault," said Smyth. "But I think it's important to point out we've always had high rates when compared to other cities, I don't know what it is about the Prairies – Manitoba, Saskatchewan – we're typically at the high end of the scale."
Smyth said the service's "clearance rates" are good and among the best in the country.
"Our homicide unit ranks among the best in the country. Our clearance rates there are consistently in the 90th percentile," said Smyth, saying clearance rates are a better indicator of police performance than crime rates.
Domestic violence rates up
The report showed an increase in the number of people charged in domestic violence cases. More than 2,150 charges were laid in 2015, a nearly 14 per cent increase since the previous year and the highest number since 2011. Of those charged, the vast majority were men.
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Those 2,150 cases come from more than 15,000 calls to police for domestic violence assistance.
Kidnapping and forcible confinement rates jumped 36 per cent last year to a total of 53 cases.
Smyth said about 30 of these were related to domestic incidents.
He said the increase was an indication that the force was taking domestic violence seriously.
Sexual assault numbers edged down slightly, while common assault charges went up eight per cent, with more than 3,000 people either charged or facing enough evidence to lay a charge, but the accused was dealt with in another fashion.
As for property crime, arson rates remained about the same; the police service reports a two per cent increase in 2015 over 2014.
Both break-ins and fraud jumped significantly.
In 2015, there was a 19 per cent increase in break and enters, with a total of 4,391 cases.
Fraud jumped 22 per cent.
Youth crime also went up about five per cent in 2015, with violent crimes committed by youth up seven per cent, and property crime up 12 per cent.
In traffic enforcement, mobile photo radar tickets went up again in 2015, with nearly 109,000 tickets issued — the most since 2011.
More money for cops?
In terms of whether the numbers will mean more resources for police, Mayor Brian Bowman seemed to suggest they won't.
"Obviously we want to see continued reductions to overall crime," said Bowman. "Let's keep in mind there was a [budget] increase last year."
He said he's remaining committed to the city's long-term strategic plan for police budgets.
Smyth said the service will continue to monitor crime rates as well as work with the police board and community partners, but there are no major changes to their strategies in the works.
The top reason cops were called out in 2015 was for domestic disturbances, followed by check well-being, general disturbances, assistance required and then reports of intoxicated people.