The pandemic is impacting local crime statistics

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The COVID-19 pandemic is likely impacting local crime.

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A report recently submitted to the Brantford Police Services Board by Deputy Chief Jason Saunders presented an overview of crime statistics for the past five years, with some marked changes since 2019.

“As we are now in the fourth wave of COVID-19, it is still too early to provide a clear report on the impact of this virus on crime statistics,” Saunders said. “However, some trends appear to be closely related to COVID-19.

“COVID presented a variety of challenges regarding how we had to deploy our patrols. We know the pandemic has definitely impacted our crime stats and while we have seen an increase in COVID-related complaints, it is still difficult to determine the full impact of the pandemic.

Calls for service to Brantford police are well above the national average and are expected to increase as the city’s population grows, Saunders said.

In 2019, the national average of police calls per 100,000 population was 38,371. By comparison, in 2019, Brantford police responded to 50,050 calls.

Although the Crime Severity Index, a measure of the seriousness of police-reported crime, continues to decline, Brantford is still above the national average.

Police-reported crime in Canada, as measured by the Crime Severity Index, decreased by 8% in the first year of the pandemic, from 79.8 in 2019 to 73.4 in 2020 The index was 11% lower than a decade earlier in 2010. .

By comparison, Brantford’s police-reported Crime Severity Index for 2020 was 80.8 and its police-reported violent crime index was 89.4 in 2020, compared to the national average of 87, 0.

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The city’s homicide rate is nearly double the national average. The city has averaged three homicides a year since 2017, Saunders said.

Last year there was a 20% drop in sexual assaults reported to police – from 219 in 2019 to 175 in 2020 – but the pandemic lockdown “could have exacerbated under-reporting,” according to StatsCan.

“With widespread stay-at-home orders and overstretched hospital and medical resources, it may be more difficult for victims to come forward to report sexual assault cases, and less likely for a third party (a doctor or teacher , for example) would identify signs of abuse, especially in children and young people.

Saunders said sexual assault is a “very serious concern for all communities, including Brantford” and further analysis is needed to identify any changes in the statistics.

The pandemic could also be behind a drop in the number of residential burglaries, both locally and nationally. The number of break-ins to homes in Brantford began to decline in 2019 when 369 incidents were reported. This figure fell to 313 in 2020.

“With many people working from home or in quarantine, fewer homes remained vacant during the day, which created fewer opportunities for someone to break in,” Saunders said.

He said that while reporting crime statistics is an important tool, it is “just one element of public safety.” Saunders said further analysis will be carried out on the statistics to more accurately identify “situations, locations and potential offenders that play a role in fluctuating crime rates”.

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“We know the types of crime we see in Brantford are changing. All communities are vulnerable to violent crime, Brantford is no exception. Many factors, such as the opioid crisis and the influx of serious gun-related violent crime from the GTA, all contribute to fluctuations in the Crime Severity Index.

In one look

The Brantford Police Services Board received an overview of crime statistics for the past five years. Here are some statistics:

  • Vehicle theft dropped 23% in Brantford, from 425 in 2019 to 329 in 2020.
  • Motor vehicle collisions were down 25% from 2019 to 2020, due to fewer vehicles on the road during the pandemic, Saunders said. Despite these decreases, the collision trend is on the rise, with an average of 2,293 per year in Brantford.
  • The trend of Criminal Code charges continues to rise. On average, Brantford police lay 6,220 charges per year.
  • The trend of provincial charges, including traffic offenses and alcohol-related offences, continues to rise. Brantford police lay an average of 5,848 charges per year.
  • On average, Brantford police investigate 900 assaults per year, with the number of incidents remaining fairly constant over the past five years. After declining in 2017, there was a whopping 113% increase in assaults on municipal police officers in 2018. The number of assaults increased from 15 in 2017 to 36 in 2020.
  • Local weapons offenses skyrocketed in 2020, up 45% from 2019. The five-year average is 200 calls to arms to police per year.
  • Impaired driving, involving both alcohol and drugs, is down slightly. On average, municipal police deal with 113 impaired drivers per year. After an 18% increase in 2019, there was an 8% drop in 2020.
  • In 2019, there was a 65% increase in thefts (over $5,000). That number, which does not include vehicle thefts, fell 29% last year, to 27 incidents. Similarly, thefts under $5,000 decreased by 30% in 2020. Last year, 1,024 incidents were reported to the police. “With the forced closures, many businesses were only open for curbside pickup,” Saunders said. “This new way of retailing has reduced the risk of theft inside the business.”
  • Local robberies, with and without weapons, increased in 2019 and 2020 and the overall five-year trend is up. This bucks the national trend, which saw an 18% drop last year. There were 38 local robberies with a weapon in 2019 and 48 in 2020. Unarmed robberies increased from 28 in 2019 to 35 last year.

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