Calgary had the ominous distinction of claiming the most gang-related murders per capita in Canada in 2008, according to a Statistics Canada report released yesterday.

The statistics agency directly contributed an overall two per cent increase in Canadian homicides last year to gang-related murders in B.C and Alberta.

While Calgary police deputy Chief Roger Chaffin is not surprised at the numbers, he said recent funding and high-profile arrests will paint a better picture for next year’s statistics.

“We’ve had a lot of success this year with the support of the provincial and the municipal governments, so we’re very positive looking forward,” Chaffin said, adding crime-suppression teams and more beat cops downtown have made a big difference in crime this year.

“We will not rest and we will remain vigilant and continue to address the problem on a rapid basis.”

According to Statistics Canada, there were 611 reported homicides in the country in 2008, 17 more than in 2007.

“The 2008 increase was due almost entirely to increases in Alberta and B.C, much of what was gang-related,” the agency stated.

Grant MacEwan University criminologist Bill Pitt said he is not surprised to hear the West was the cause of the spike.

“Calgary and Edmonton are relatively affluent and as long as there is a demand for cocaine and drugs, there will be a supply, and the supply brings gang-related crime,” Pitt said.

Despite recent gang-suppression success in Calgary, Pitt isn’t sure we can expect an imminent drop in gang-related deaths.

“I don’t think crime statistics are going to go down; I think they are going to get higher.”