Nova Scotia’s overall crime rate dipped by seven per cent last year and crime severity dropped nine per cent, statistics released yesterday show.

But that could be seen as cold comfort since the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics report was released a day after shots were fired in the middle of the afternoon in the heart of Halifax.

Halifax still sits above the national average in overall crime rate statistics.

 

“When you have incidents like that in the daytime, in broad daylight, in a heavily populated area, in those cases, yes, there is an increased risk to the general public,” Const. Brian Palmeter, spokesman for Halifax Regional Police, said after looking after the new stats himself.

“But the majority of citizens are perfectly safe,” he emphasized.

Both HRP and Halifax RCMP released their own stats early this year, showing that violent crime increased across the municipality during the first part of this year.

“There’s been a four per cent rise in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the same quarter for 2008,” he said. “We’ve acknowledged that there’s been a spike in these violent incidents and it’s certainly something we’re aware of and we’re addressing.”

He said police attribute the increase in violence to a pattern of recent public gunfire and a number of homicides already this year.

“We have ongoing disputes between different groups in a very violent manner,” Palmeter said. “We’ve seen that they’ve moved to using firearms to settle their disputes.”

On Monday afternoon, a someone fired a few shots on Spring Garden Road. Late in the evening on Canada Day, several shots were fired in a Tim Hortons parking lot in the city’s north end.

Justice Minister Ross Landry said in a news release yesterday that’s “the province is working with municipalities to make Nova Scotia a safer, better place.”

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