Saskatoon, Regina had highest crime rates in Canada in 2015

For the first time in more than a decade, crime rates rose in Saskatchewan last year. Saskatoon and Regina are first and second respectively for highest crime rates in Canada. Regina had the highest homicide rate in the country.

Crime up 10 per cent in Saskatchewan last year

Regina police investigate a crime scene on March 17, 2016. (Brian Rodgers/CBC News)

For the first time in more than a decade, crime rates rose in Saskatchewan last year.

In 2015, the province's crime severity index (CSI) jumped 10 per cent higher than in 2014, according to crime numbers from Statistics Canada.

Saskatoon and Regina were No. 1 and 2 respectively for the highest crime rates in the country.

With eight killings in the city in 2015, Regina had the country's highest homicide rate.

That statistic is concerning to Deputy Chief Dean Rae.

"We've talked about increases in gun violence and drug use in the city," said Rae. "I don't know if that has anything to do with overall crime numbers, but there's a number of factors influencing the increase this year, but we've seen it across Canada."

Saskatchewan's not alone when it comes to a rise in crime. Canada's overall crime severity index rose five per cent from 2014 to 2015

"One homicide is one too many," said Regina Mayor Michael Fougere, citing economic circumstances as a reason for the city's spike in crime.

"There's lots of activities that are out of the control of the police service and that level is frustrating," said Fougere.

Rae says the Regina Police Service is working on programs with the government and community partners to reduce crime.

"It's a multi-faceted issue with a lot of our partners having a huge role to play in this and I think if we all stick together and work on this thing, we can see some substantial changes over the next 10 years hopefully."

Fougere is staying positive, citing a steady decline in the crime rate in the past 11 years. The rate is down 38 per cent from 2005.

"We're hoping this year's reporting is a blip in terms of a slight increase," said Fougere.

Michael Parker, executive director of the North Central Community Association in Regina, said reducing crime is more than a policing matter.

"Policing's expensive and we need police," Parker said Wednesday, "But if we put a bit more investment into the poverty reduction and more social programs, there's a bigger payoff for that investment down the road."

So far in 2016 there have been four homicides in Regina and eight in Saskatoon.