Abbotsford police are searching for a suspect after a reported theft.

Abbotsford police are searching for a suspect after a reported theft.

Crime rate continues to fall in Abbotsford-Mission

Violent crime severity index drops 13 per cent, according to Statistics Canada.

The rate of crime continues to drop in the Abbotsford-Mission census metropolitan area (CMA), according to national statistics released this week.

Abbotsford-Mission’s crime rate dropped two per cent from 2012 to 2013, according to Statistics Canada’s annual police-reported crime statistics.

But the level of serious crime dropped even further, with both the violent crime rate and the crime severity index declining five per cent, and the violent crime severity index falling 13 per cent from the previous year. The formula for the crime severity indexes takes the crime rate and assigns weight to various offences based on their seriousness.

As a whole, Abbotsford-Mission’s crime rate is the ninth highest in the country among Canada’s 33 CMAs and remains substantially above the national average, although the local violent crime severity index is better than Canada’s average.

This year’s drop comes after a seven per cent fall in the CMA crime rate between 2011 and 2012.

Mission, though, is dragging down the region’s crime numbers.

As a municipality, Abbotsford’s crime rate held steady, rising one per cent, but the city actually boasts a considerably lower rate than the CMA as a whole. The crime rate in Mission, which saw an eight per cent drop, remains 70 per cent higher than that of Abbotsford.

Abbotsford Police Department Const. Ian MacDonald said the numbers are positive for the city, but show more work can be done.

“We’re doing fairly well but we’re not where we need to be,” he said, citing the department’s goal of making Abbotsford Canada’s safest city.

MacDonald said the department is constantly looking at data to see where more work can be done. But he also noted that the annual Statistics Canada numbers don’t measure the success of the department’s focus on improving the safety on Abbotsford’s roads.

While Abbotsford residents might be statistically safer than they were 10 years ago, MacDonald said it’s important that people’s perceptions match those numbers. That’s harder to do.

“People don’t tend to think in trends, they think in anecdotes,” he said.

MacDonald hopes that by being engaged with the community, those feelings will move in time with the generally improving numbers – even if Abbotsford does have work to do.

Not all the trends were moving in the right direction: the CMA’s sexual assault rate rose 19 per cent in Abbotsford-Mission, although it remains the second-lowest in the country. (The statistics only count sexual assaults that are reported to police, so it’s unclear if the increase reflects more crimes or more reporting of the crime). And Abbotsford-Mission’s motor vehicle theft rate climbed 14 per cent and is now the sixth highest in Canada, among CMAs.

Robberies, though, declined 30 per cent, and drug offences dropped 11 per cent. Thefts from motor vehicles declined nine per cent, although police reported earlier this week that the rate has risen considerably since the start of 2014.