City crime on decline

<p>With overall crime rates continuing to decline, Ottawa is one of the safest cities in Canada, the city’s police chief said yesterday.</p>

 

Statistics show violent crime fell 5 per cent in 2006, police chief says


With overall crime rates continuing to decline, Ottawa is one of the safest cities in Canada, the city’s police chief said yesterday.

 




Violent crimes here declined by five per cent from 2005 to 2006, said Chief Vernon White, who interpreted Ottawa’s crime statistics at a police services board meeting yesterday.

 




Assaults also decreased by seven per cent in the city, with occurrences remaining below the five-year average. Break-and-enters are also down 12 per cent, after a 10 per cent increase in 2005.

 




Youth involvement in violent crimes is down 15 per cent, but up six per cent in property crimes and 10 per cent in other Criminal Code offences.





The number of youth-related crimes and property crimes like break-and-enters are proportional to the number of drug-related problems in the city, said White.





Once drug problems are addressed, “we’ll see certain types of crimes go down,” the chief said, reiterating his support for a recommendation to open a 48-bed drug treatment facility here.





It’s only the middle of 2007, but it looks like the homicide rate will rise this year, White said, driven largely by occurrences of multiple homicides, including last month’s shocking triple slaying of tax court judge Alban Garon, his wife and a friend.





“Unfortunately, we’ve seen nine this year,” he said. “If this continues, then we’ll likely see a rise ... this year.”





Ward-by-ward crime statistics indicate 14 of Ottawa’s 23 wards experienced declining criminal activity in 2006, but violent offences increased in seven wards, including Orleans, Kanata North, Stittsville-





Kanata West, Bay, Beacon Hill-Cyrville, River and Gloucester-South Nepean.





Property crimes were also up slightly in several wards, including Kanata North, Bay, Gloucester-Southgate, Rideau-Vanier, Somerset, Kitchissippi, River and Osgoode.





“These stats enable Ottawa Police ... to broaden the sharing of annual crime trend statistics, particularly at the ward level,” said White. “They also contribute to our operational planning ... and help us be more responsive to the needs of our community.”





But sometimes, crimes will skew the statistics in a ward, said Councillor Maria McRae. She cited the recent triple homicide on Riverside Drive as an example.





If people focus on specific locations, they’re going to potentially miss other problem areas, White said. “Criminals don’t have borders.”


 
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