Is Penticton more dangerous than the Lower Mainland?
While some statistics would indicate it is, Penticton’s mayor thinks otherwise.
“I don’t want to pick on Surrey but there’s no way that Surrey or downtown Vancouver are safer than little old Penticton,” said Mayor Andrew Jakubeit Tuesday. “I’m not sure how Surrey, that averages between 60 and 90 shootings a year, where we may have one or two, is deemed safer.
“I think it’s always going to be slightly skewed because it’s crimes per 100,000 people and it’s only a small proportion of bad people out there and when they get mixed in with a population of 300,000, 600,000, a million versus 34,000 people of course that figure is always going to be mathematically higher.”
Jakubeit was referencing the Statistics Canada Canadian Community Crime Tracker figures showing the total Penticton municipal crime rate per 100,000 population went up to 13,299.03 last year from 13,292.42 in 2016 and a Maclean’s magazine report.
“Sometimes you’ll see an increase, ‘crime went up 100 per cent’ that’s because it went from two incidents to four and in the overall picture the community’s not at risk but the percentage seems crazy,” he said.
The mayor also questioned the reliability of Maclean’s listing of Canada’s most dangerous places in which the 2018 report put Penticton in the number 16 spot with a Crime Severity Index (CSI) of 146 (145.03).
In that report Surrey was ranked 32nd with a CSI of 117 and Vancouver was 35th at 114 out of 229 centres listed.
North Battleford, Sask. topped the list at 353. Five other B.C. cities, including Vernon (ninth) were ahead of Penticton in the report.
“So the larger centres seem to fall on the bottom of the list and the smaller communities are more elevated,” said Jakubeit.
Crime Severity Index is a Statistics Canada measure of all police-reported crime, which takes into consideration both the volume and seriousness of offences.
According to the Crime Tracker figures Penticton’s CSI in 2016 was 141.21 up by just over three points last year.
In the rural Penticton region the total crime rate was actually down 17 per cent from 5,947.89 to 4,918.96 in 2017.
By comparison for that year Vernon municipal was down slightly at 11,621.93 and Kelowna’s rate was also lower at 9,615.090.
The 2017 average figure in B.C. was 7,416.63 and nationally 5,334.04.
”Our community is a safe community but obviously there is still crime, we’re becoming a big city and unfortunately crime and bad behaviour are part of that,” said Jakubeit. “We’re trying to address that as much as we can with enforcement and officers but also on the back end with the working with the Attorney General because prolific offenders really need to have the severity of the courts thrown at them and not as is sometimes happening where they get the lower or lesser end of the punishment spectrum and then their out doing their thing.
“Quality of life is important and we’ve invested $9 million into the RCMP and that’s a significant portion of our budget to try and make the community safe.”
A breakdown of the Crime Tracker stats for Penticton municipal showed violent crime down from 1,384 to 1,051.46 in 2017 however the violent CSI jumped to 99.18 from 84.63.
The unfounded average of the total violent crime reports was 37.42 per cent last year.
Total non violent crime was up from 12,708.73 in 2016 to 12,906.82 last year, sexual assault climbed to 38.94 from 27.08 in 2016. The unfounded figure was 36.36 per cent in that category.
The physical assault rate was down from 737.13 in 2016 to 559.11 last year. The unfounded figure last year was 40 per cent.
Total robbery rate was down from 90.26 to 75.1, firearm-related violent crime was down from 18.05 to 16.69 in 2017 and break and enter rates were up from 1,065.08 to 1,129.35 in 2017.
Total drug violations dropped to 634.21 from 764.21with cannabis violations also going down from 318.92 in 2016 to 244.78 last year.