The crime rate has dropped six per cent in the Abbotsford-Mission census metropolitan area (CMA) after two years of hikes, according to the latest figures released by Statistics Canada.
The annual numbers, released Monday, report the crime severity index (CSI) and the crime rate for 34 CMAs across Canada for 2016.
The latest stats show that the Abbotsford-Mission CMA was the sixth highest in the nation for its crime rate and seventh for its CSI. The area was fifth in both areas in 2015.
The CMA recorded 7,009 Criminal Code offences per 100,000 people in 2016, compared to the national average of 5,224 and the provincial average of 7,738. The local rate dropped six per cent over 2015.
The area’s CSI – which is calculated based on the number of crimes reported and the severity of each offence – was down five per cent from 2015. The figure, 91.35, is higher than the national average of 71 but lower than the provincial average of 93.6.
The numbers, broken down further, separate the two communities from one another. Abbotsford’s CSI for 2016 was 86.3 (down .7 per cent from 2015), while Mission’s was 109.8 (a 15.5 per cent drop).
Both communities also recorded decreases in their non-violent CSI (down .5 per cent in Abbotsford and 12 per cent in Mission).
And although Abbotsford had a small drop of one per cent in its violent CSI, Mission’s was more significant, decreasing by 28 per cent.
Const. Ian MacDonald said the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) is pleased with the numbers.
He said that although Abbotsford might be among the higher CMAs in the nation, its numbers are lower than the provincial average and than many of its neighbouring cities that aren’t included in the list of CMAs.
(Only three other B.C. cities – Kelowna, Victoria and Vancouver – are listed among the CMAs.)
“We have to recognize that our mission statement is to make Abbotsford the safest city in B.C. We’re not there yet … but, overall, we’re taking steps in the right direction,” he said.
MacDonald said the numbers are getting back to where they should be, following a CSI that measured as high as 145.6 in 2007.
He said drops in break-ins and property crimes – due to increased enforcement and improved crime analysis – are helping to improve those numbers.
One area that has been showing an increase is in the number of homicides – from three in 2015 to five last year. But MacDonald said murder is difficult to predict and prevent, particularly when it is driven by gang and drug activity.
“There are casualties. It’s something we have been consistently warning people about.”
MacDonald said the APD continues to make the suppression of gang activity a priority in the city.
Mission RCMP Sgt. Rob Wheeler said that focused, targeted enforcement based on the crime trends is a possible reason for the decline in Mission.
“Basically we take a look at what’s going on and we target our energy towards that,” he said.
The highest crime rate in the country for 2016 was Regina (9.253), followed by Saskatoon (8.942) and Kelowna (8,445). The lowest was Toronto (2,954).
The three CMAs recording the highest CSIs were Regina (125.8), Saskatoon (117.8) and Edmonton (105.7). The lowest was Quebec City (45.2).