Saskatchewan

Rural, urban crime rates in Sask. more than double national average: Statistics Canada

Statistics Canada's latest report on crime, tabled on Tuesday, shows a disparity between crime rates in Sask. and the rest of the country. The disparity grows when looking at crimes committed in urban areas versus those committed in rural areas.

Rural reports rank higher on Crime Severity Index than urban

Sask. rural crime rate numbers are three times higher than the rest of the country according to numbers from Statistics Canada. (Helen Pike/CBC)

Statistics Canada's latest report on crime, tabled on Tuesday, shows a great disparity in the crime rates in Sask. and the rest of the country. The disparity grows when looking at crimes committed in urban areas versus those committed in rural areas.

The report says Sask. has a rural and urban crime rates of more than double the rest of the country.

Nationally, the report shows there were 6,210 Criminal Code violations per 100,000 people in rural areas in 2017. In Saskatchewan, that was 13,829 per 100,000 people.

In urban settings across the country, there were 5,051 Criminal Code violations per 100,000 people in 2017. In Sask. the rate was 10,138 violations per 100,000 people.

The police-reported crime rate in rural parts of Sask. was 13,826 per 100,000 people in 2017. In urban areas of Sask. the rate was 5,051 per 100,000, according to Statistics Canada. (Statistics Canada)

The crime severity index — a statistic that measures the relative seriousness of reported crimes — was 17 per cent higher in rural areas than urban areas, according to the report.

Ray Orb, president of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM), offered some insight as to why the number might appear to be high.

"Part of the reason why we did see a spike in rural crime was the fact that rural people weren't necessarily reporting that [previously]," Orb said. "We've been encouraging, along with the RCMP of course, encouraging people promoting that reporting system."

He noted that 2017 was also before different initiatives were put in place to reduce the rural crime rate.

Orb said he hopes that initiatives brought about, like the Protection and Response team, drive the crime statistics down.

He said that between April and August of 2018, there were roughly 400 calls to the Protection and Response Team, which is made up of different law enforcement organizations in Sask.

Orb said SARM is working with the RCMP and the provincial government to try and revitalize the Rural Crime Watch program here in Saskatchewan.

The high rural crime rate in Sask. is driven by offences in the northern part of the province according to the report. (Statistics Canada)

Despite the disparity with the rest of the country, rural and urban crime rates are lower than they were in 2009.

"In rural areas, the crime rate decreased 13 per cent and the [severity index] was down seven per cent [since 2009]," the report stated.

Urban areas saw a decrease in the Crime Severity Index by 19 per cent in the same time period.

Report shows disparity between numbers in north, south

Across the country, southern regions of provinces report lower crime rates.

Across the northern regions of B.C., Alta, Sask., Man., Ont., Que., and Newfoundland and Labrador, the crime rate was 14,512 per 100,000 people.

That number is three times higher than the southern crime rate, which was 4,706 per 100,000 people.

In Saskatchewan, which has the highest rates of rural crime in the north of all the provinces surveyed, there were 59,574 criminal code violations per 100,000 people in 2017.

The rural crime rate in southern Sask. is much lower than in northern Sask. (Statistics Canada)

In comparison, in southern Sask. there were 9,053 criminal code violations per 100,000 people in 2017.

The report did not factor in the northern territories into its final numbers due to the differences between the territories and the provinces, according to the document.

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