Arson, firearms offences increased in 2018, according to latest Iqaluit crime stats

RCMP in Iqaluit responded to 2,387 more calls for service in 2018 than the previous year.

Iqaluit RCMP respond to a heavy increase in calls for service

The RCMP detachment in Iqaluit. (CBC)

Assaults, firearms offences, and impaired driving were on the rise in Iqaluit last year.

Arson numbers alone tripled, with 23 offences in 2018 over 2017's eight. Perhaps most notably last year, a 17-year-old was charged in November following a fire at the Northmart warehouse, which burned for 22 hours. That fire was one of several that burned in the city that day.

The 2018 crime statistics were presented to Iqaluit city council on Jan. 22. According to the report, there were 181 more assaults in 2018 than in 2017, with 1,071 assaults last year and 890 in the year previous.

"Those are the main type of offenses that we are dealing with on a daily basis," said RCMP Staff Sgt. Garfield Elliott.

Of the assaults, 862 were known as common assaults, relatively minor offences for things like bar fights. Cases of assault causing bodily harm grew by eight offences.

In total, there were 13,733 calls for service last year, creating a rise of 2,387.

"Assaults have gone up in accordance with the increased calls for service," said Elliott.

Firearms offences double

Firearm offences also doubled in 2018 from the previous year, with 32 in 2018. Twenty-six of these were possession of a weapon for a dangerous purposes. Elliott said things like unsafe storage and careless use of a weapon are lumped in with these offences.

However, out of the 16 firearm offences in 2017, nine were possession of a weapon for a dangerous purposes.

"I don't have specific answer to single out what would have caused that [number] to go from nine to 26 this particular year," said Elliott.

"As we look at total crime over a number of years we have rises and falls."

There is also a rise in sexual offences with 113 offences in 2018 and 105 in 2017.

Also of note, impaired operation of a vehicle offences have been increasing since 2015. There were 150 impaired operations in 2018, and 110 in 2017.

"Numbers for impaired driving or impaired operation of vehicles continues to be far too many for an annual basis," said Elliott.