Superintendent Ted de Jager said he is still reviewing recent crime stats, but they can be misleading. Western News file photo

Penticton crime rate highest in Valley

Penticton’s top cop says stats only paint a partial picture

Along with having one of the highest Crime Severity Index ratings in the Okanagan Valley, Penticton also tops the list when it comes to the tally of reported crimes.

The overall crime rate compared to population across B.C. declined last year, but in Penticton, it continued to climb for the third year in a row.

Excluding traffic violations, there were 4,419 criminal code violations reported in Penticton last year, according to the annual Juristat article released by Statistics Canada this week. That translates to about 13,623 incidents per 100,000 population; using that same standardized population, the province has a rating of 7,738.

Other South Okanagan commwunities are all below the provincial average: Oliver, 7,902; Osoyoos, 7,510; Keremeos, 7,022 and Summerland, 5,636. Kelowna comes in at 10,126 and Vernon, 12,668.

The Crime Severity Index, also released this week, put Penticton ahead of the provincial average with an index of 145.92, the highest in the Okanagan Valley except for Vernon (156.99). The CSI tracks not only the change in volume of a particular crime but the relative seriousness of that crime in comparison to other crimes.

Related: Penticton gets high crime severity rating

Superintendent Ted de Jager, the detachment commander for Penticton, declined to specifically comment on the CSI statistics, saying more time was needed to evaluate them.

“CSI is just one measure we use to gauge where we need to target enforcement and set priorities. We also use crime rates and police workload stats. Looking at any one of these on their own can be very misleading,” said de Jager in an email.

He explained that the CSI can only be used as part of the assessment, dealing with variables like sentencing rates and actual reported occurrences.

“One thing it does not capture is proactive work. For instance, in the last year, we have been actively targeting prolific and sometimes violent offenders. This could contribute to a rise in CSI, but as a result of good work,” said de Jager. “The intent in targeting these individuals is to lower calls for service and the crime rate, thereby allowing police to investigate more serious crimes and increase community engagement and proactive work.”

De Jager said that less than four per cent of the calls for service in Penticton and the region are classified as violent crimes, but since they have a higher weighting, they can contribute to a higher CSI. That’s even though, he explained, the majority of those violent crimes are the result of a known offender or lifestyle.

“Much of the angst in a community is due to the perception of crime as opposed to actual safety,” said de Jager. “Our highest single crime type that affects the most people in Penticton is theft. The majority of that is preventable, although some people who do everything right may still become victims.”

The Juristat figures also show the majority of Penticton’s high crime count comes from property crimes: 8,903 per 100,000 population. Violent crimes show at 1,497, still higher than the provincial average }of 1,139.

“Since this (theft) affects the most people, it can understandably lead to a perception that crime is rampant and therefore the community is not safe. That is exactly why we devote so much effort to the very few prolific offenders who are causing the majority of crime,” said de Jager.

“In reality, the majority of violent crime is committed by known offenders against people known to them, including domestic violence. This does not mean robbery and other types of violent crime will not occur, however, they are by far the lowest crime type we experience in our South Okanagan communities. Given the seriousness of these types of crimes, we always put full effort into solving them when they do occur.”

Related: Top cop draws crowd for crime talk

Just Posted

Princess Maggie student to represent Team BC at National High School Finals Rodeo

Vanessa Caverly is the South All Around Cowgirl for 2019 and South Season Leader in 3 of her event

It pays off to be a volunteer with Penticton Ribfest

Local businesses will be catering the volunteer breakout tent at the annual event

D-League basketball wraps up successful season, prepares for summer camp

Lake City Basketball will be hosting a basketball camp at Okanagan College from July 2 to 5

It’s all about community for Penticton Christian School valedictorian

Holly Waterman, 17, plans to take a gap year and then attend Trinity Western University

Heat on fire at annual Okanagan lacrosse tourney

The Penticton Heat had the hot hands to help it win its… Continue reading

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

Vernon seeks additional fetal alcohol syndrome support B.C.-wide

“We are making a difference but we could make even more of a difference”

Gambler 500 hits Okanagan back roads

Hundreds of off road enthusiasts are rallying in the South Okanagan this… Continue reading

Cyclists competing in one of the toughest bike races on the planet pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Jury finds Kelowna man guilty of second-degree murder

A Kelowna jury found Steven Randy Pirko guilty of the second-degree murder

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

No business case for Trans Mountain expansion, says former environment minister

Cabinet is expected to announce its decision on the expansion of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline by Tuesday

Most Read