Crime rate down in St. John’s

6th highest among metropolitan areas in Statistics Canada report

Published on July 24, 2014
Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Chief Bill Janes spoke with reporters Wednesday about the release of a Statistics Canada report that breaks down crime statistics from across the country for 2013. — Photo by Andrew Robinson/The Telegram

Crime was down in the St. John’s metro area for 2013 compared to the year before, but its crime rate was among the highest in the country

That’s according to a Statistics Canada report released Wednesday comparing crime rates in different provinces and metropolitan areas. The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary contributed data used to compile the report.

The total number of crimes reported in the St. John’s metro area for 2013 was 6,464 per population of 100,000, a three per cent decline from the previous year.

While the crime rate for St. John’s was down, it was still the sixth-highest rate among 33 metropolitan areas singled out in the report. The Canadian average for 2013 was a crime rate of 5,190 per population of 100,000, down eight per cent from 2012. The metropolitan area with the highest crime rate was Regina at 8,069.

According to RNC Chief Bill Janes, the RNC prefers to compare the crime rate for the St. John’s metro area to itself year-over-year instead of crime rates for other jurisdictions.

“You’re gathering data from over 200 police services in Canada. They all have different record management systems, and your numbers could be off a little bit. So if you compare Canada to Canada year-over-year or you compare a particular city to a particular city year-over-year, you’ll get a good comparison.”

Break-ins were down 25 per cent in the St. John’s metro area for 2013, with 511 incidents per population of 100,000 reported.

Also down for 2013 compared to the year before were sexual assaults (21 per cent), motor vehicle thefts and drug offences (both 19 per cent), and violent crimes (seven per cent).

Janes was pleased with those results. He said the police force attributes those declines to its intelligence-led policing initiatives and its crime analysis capabilities.

“We analyze things such as time of day, we look at particular individuals in the community, and as well we look at particular geographic areas,” said the police chief. “We were very pleased with the success we had over the past year.”

The crime severity index — a tool to measure crime that addresses the limitations of crime rates driven by a large number of less-serious offences — painted a slighty different picture when it comes to violent crime in St. John’s.

The violent crime severity index for the St. John’s metro area was 79.5, a nine per cent increase over the 2012 index rating. The report’s authors attributed that to an increase in homicide cases and gun-related offences.

There were three homicides in the St. John’s metro area in 2013 and none the year before. A woman’s death in a field in Paradise in July 2012 was initially treated as a homicide case, but the RNC later classified it as a sudden death.

The crime rate for Newfoundland and Labrador in 2013 was 5,955, a two per cent decrease from 2012. That’s the fifth-highest crime rate among the 10 Canadian provinces.