PEI

P.E.I. youth crime rate dropping

The youth crime rate on P.E.I. is down more than 60 per cent over the last five years, according to a new report from Statistics Canada.

RCMP call new statistics 'very positive'

The data shows the Island's incident-based rate was rising slowly from 2009 to 2013, but then it began to fall dramatically. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

The youth crime rate on P.E.I. is down more than 60 per cent over the last five years, according to a new report from Statistics Canada.

Statistics Canada released police-reported crime statistics for 2018 on Monday morning.

The data shows the Island's youth incident-based rate, which counts all cases of incidents reported to police equally, was rising slowly from 2009 to 2013.

It went up from 2,165 per 100,000 population in 2009 to 2,348 in 2013.

But then it began to fall dramatically. By 2018 it was 910.

That represents a drop in actual incidents from 173 in 2009 to 92 in 2018.

Province changed tack

"A strength-based approach to helping youth and families address identified risks and needs has no doubt contributed to the reduction of those young people in conflict with the law," P.E.I.'s Department of Justice and Public Safety said in an emailed statement to CBC News. 

Officials point to programs such as the Youth Intervention Outreach Program, a voluntary program for 12- to 18-year-olds who have had "contact with police" that offers support to the young people and their families.

The statement also noted that back in 2003, to align with amendments to the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the province reallocated resources from youth custody to community-based youth justice services to allow earlier intervention and support to youth and families. 

RCMP on P.E.I. say the drop is "very positive" but can't posit any reasons for the decrease.

"I suspect that the decrease is due to a variety of reasons, and it will be difficult to point to any one or two factors as being the cause of the decrease," said Staff Sgt. Kevin Baillie. 

"Overall, crime seems to be trending downwards across the country, which is also very positive."

The overall crime rate has also fallen in the last decade.

From 2009 to 2012 the rate was more than 7,000 and then it began to fall, bottoming out at 4,708 in 2017.

2018 saw an increase to 5,363.

Crime severity up in 2018

The crime severity index, which measures the severity of crimes committed and not just the numbers, shows a similar pattern for P.E.I.

The index was increasing from 2009 to 2012, peaking at 73.6. It had fallen to 45.8 by 2017, and jumped up to 53.7 last year.

That was the biggest percentage increase in the country, but P.E.I.'s crime severity index remains the lowest in Canada.

The national average is 75.0. The highest rate among the provinces is in Saskatchewan at 139.2.

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About the Author

Kevin Yarr is the early morning web journalist at CBC P.E.I. You can reach him at kevin.yarr@cbc.ca.

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