Sask. municipal police see little change in crime trends amidst COVID-19 pandemic

Crime trends in Saskatchewan cities aren't changing much, despite more people self-isolating and staying home to work due to COVID-19.

Police in Prince Albert hope to see crime trend down as more people comply with public health order

Municipal police forces in Saskatchewan have noticed some increases and declines in different areas amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, though it may still be too early to tell if they're directly driven by the virus. (Jaromir Chalabala/Shutterstock)

Crime trends in Saskatchewan cities aren't changing much, despite more people self-isolating and staying home to work due to COVID-19.

In Regina, police spokesperson Elizabeth Popowich had previously speculated there could be fewer break and enter calls as more people are staying home. 

"My simple theory was incorrect or incomplete," she said in an emailed statement Thursday.

Between March 17 and 24, there were 18 reported break and enters. Between March 24 and 31, there were 41 reported break and enters, according to numbers Popowich provided.

 "Needs change; opportunities change; people adapt," she said.

She said the number of calls for services in March was comparable to the number of calls for service in February, but there was a reduction in reportable incidents.

Popowich noted that while break and enters were up last week over the previous week, other property crime — including auto thefts and mischief — were down. 

She said the causes of crime are still the same in Regina; poverty still exists, firearms are still in the community and addictions and mental health issues are still around, and along with COVID-19 concerns, police are still busy policing the city.

A brief statement from the Moose Jaw Police Service indicated they had seen small increases in domestic, mental health and violent crime calls in recent weeks. (Moose Jaw Police Service)

The Saskatoon Police Service said it was not seeing any trending types of calls. 

"We are keeping on eye on mischief and willful damage, given the damage to vehicles in Central over the weekend," the statement said. "Violent crime is slightly down and there is not much change in the numbers for property crime either."

Calls for service in Saskatoon are down slightly, but the spokesperson wouldn't point to anything in particular as a driver for those numbers, as the COVID-19 pandemic is now just in its third week.

In Prince Albert, police spokesperson Charlene Tebbutt said officers are still responding to some of the same calls for disturbances and evictions — where police have to remove someone who won't leave a residence or business after being asked — they always have.

But there have been declines in calls related to intoxication and break and enters in the Gateway to the North. 

"We're urging voluntary compliance [with the public health orders], so we're really hoping people will stay home and follow those," she said. "Hopefully, with that, we would see crime trending down in a lot of areas."