Statistics show the severity of violent crime has increased by 44% in Nanaimo

Crime severity and violent crime statistics in Nanaimo are on the rise.

According to Statistics Canada figures released Tuesday, August 2, Nanaimo climbed to 129.7 on the Crime Severity Index scale in 2021, from 118.7 in 2020 – a 9.3% increase, but lower than the last pre-pandemic figure in 2019, when Nanaimo hit 142.5 on the index.

The Crime Severity Index is based on crime figures reported to Statistics Canada by police forces nationwide. It includes all criminal code offences, including traffic offenses and drug offences, and measures changes in the level of crime severity from year to year. More serious crimes carry more weight and vice versa, which means that more serious offenses have a greater impact on the change in a municipality’s index.

The severity of violent crime in Nanaimo worsened in 2021, rising more than 44% to 146.0 on the index scale from 101.4 in 2020 – a year with statistics skewed by the effects of the pandemic. Prior to that, Nanaimo’s Violent Crime Severity Index climbed for several years, from 76.9 to 85.4 to 101.4 between 2017 and 2019.

Violent crime impacts a wide range of police statistics, as serious crimes such as murders, serious assaults and sexual offenses require more resources to investigate, the superintendent says. Nanaimo RCMP Detachment Commander Lisa Fletcher.

“One of the things that will be dramatically captured in this is the number of homicides we’ve had…” she said. “We also had a dedicated unit that investigates sex related offenses including child molestation which is different to other communities which have not had one… This will impact the community as statistical.”

There have been four confirmed murders in Nanaimo in 2021, each of them drawing resources from an already taxed municipal police force. The detachment has been understaffed due to injuries, illnesses and front-line officer vacancies, and Fletcher said police forces across Canada face similar challenges.

“When you have a murder…it’s all on deck,” the reserve constable said. Nanaimo RCMP spokesperson Gary O’Brien. “Resources are mobilized because it is the worst possible crime. You shoot the drug unit, you shoot the street crime unit, you shoot traffic.

Fletcher noted that investigations into the murders are ongoing and can overlap year after year, often occurring simultaneously, until resolved.

Nanaimo residents seem to be feeling the impact of police having to prioritize resources toward serious crime investigations. In a series of six neighborhood safety audits, conducted last year by the Nanaimo RCMP Community Policing Service and Vancouver Island University criminology students in downtown Nanaimo , South End, Old Town, Harewood, Newcastle and Brechin Hill areas, the majority of residents surveyed said they thought crime was increasing in their area and most said they did not feel safe safety when walking after dark.

Nanaimo declined slightly on the Non-Violent Crime Severity Index from 124.6 to 123.5 between 2020 and 2021, following a 20% drop from the published numbers for 2019. The numbers may reflect a combination of Lower overall property crimes during the pandemic and a shift in police resources to deal with more serious crimes.

The processing of serious crime investigations also affects the weighted clearance rates – convictions and convictions of offenders by the courts. The weighted clearance rate with violence for Nanaimo dropped more than 21% in 2021 compared to 2020 and the weighted clearance rate without violence dropped nearly 7.5% for the same period.

“We focus on people rather than property, so when we review appeals what we can investigate, what we can spend time and energy on, are really offenses against people. and that’s where we prioritize,” Fletcher said. . “So some of these other police complaints that involve property offences, they probably haven’t gotten the investigative attention that they would have during quiet times. Our resource levels are low right now.

Fletcher said the city has helped the Nanaimo RCMP address its labor shortages.

“They allocated additional municipal positions because we weren’t able to staff the RCMP positions,” she said. “Currently, the RCMP across Canada is having difficulty recruiting due to COVID and various issues, so we are waiting to fill positions, and so our members are fatigued.”

Case resolution rates are also impacted by what is happening in neighboring communities. Fletcher noted that the number of police cases has increased not only in Nanaimo, but also in nearby detachments.

‘This is all happening in one Crown office and they need to have the right resources to devote time and energy to investigations,’ the police chief said. “We’ve worked closely with Crown and tried to make sure that we don’t clog them, that the energy is really going into investigations that will make a difference.”

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Statistics Canada figures released Aug. 2 show a jump in Nanaimo’s rankings on the National Crime and Violent Crime Severity Index, but those numbers are skewed by the Nanaimo RCMP’s focus on the most serious crimes. the city’s worst, the superintendent said. Lisa Flecher. (Chris Bush/Newsletter)