Criminal incidents in British Columbia had the largest increase last year since 1998.
The percentage change per 100,000 people for all criminal code violations increased by just over 18 per cent, which is three times higher than the last highest crime increase in 2003.
Last year, incidents for impaired driving sky-rocked 44 per cent, robberies increased by 13 per cent and criminal harassment shot up by 40 per cent.
However, the RCMP said part of the reason for last year’s crime spike were revisions to the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey on definitions of founded and unfounded incidents.
Unfounded incidents are incidents that are determined through police investigation that the reported offence did not occur, nor was attempted.
Sergeant Chris Dodds, Revelstoke RCMP, said inconsistent reporting of unfounded incidents led to poor data quality in Canada.
New revisions changed definitions of founded incidents to account for complexities of certain offences such as sexual assault and family violence. For example, unless there is concrete evidence to prove the crime did not happen, it is to be believed that the crime occurred.
Therefore, more files that previously would have been classified as unfounded and not reported to Statistics Canada, are now being recorded, resulting in more criminal incidents.
While incidents rose the most in 2019, compared to the year prior, there were slightly less than in 1998. The most was 520,560 in 2003.
B.C’s population in 1998 was just below 4 million. By 2019, it was more than 5 million.
RCMP said last year’s increase in crime should not be concerning for British Columbians.
Many police detachments, such as Revelstoke’s, are also targeting incidents of impaired driving.
Although incidents of impaired driving went up last year by 44 per cent across B.C., the largest increase since 1998, Dodds said it’s hard to say if incidents of impaired driving are actually increasing, since law enforcement is cracking down on it.
Criminal incidents also increased by 18 per cent in Revelstoke. Dodds said there are many factors that impact crime rates, including prolific offenders, targeted enforcement and police officer training levels.
Since Revelstoke is a small community, Dodds said, a single violent offence or a string of non-violent crimes, can rapidly increase its crime ratio.
He said as Revelstoke’s population grows, it’s expected there will be a corresponding increase in police calls.
The RCMP said there are no crimes unique to Revelstoke, compared to other small B.C. communities. However, Dodds said the local detachment receives reports of stolen high value items such as snowmobiles, which is attributed to Revelstoke being a destination for snowmobilers.
Dobbs said the RCMP will increase police patrol in areas where thefts of snowmobiles have occurred in the past and will use “bait” vehicles to catch offenders.
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