Violent crime jumped slightly, and more people died in car crashes, but a report that shows the overall crime rate fell here prompted the police chief to proclaim Ottawa one of Canada’s “safest cities” last night.
“Without a doubt, Ottawa remains one of the safest cities in Canada,” said Chief Vern White. “Preliminary data for 2007 shows that the crime rate … has decreased by six per cent.”
Ottawa Police’s 2007 Activity Report, released last night, shows preliminary crime statistics fell six per cent, despite a similar-sized increase in Priority 1 — or urgent/life-threatening — calls for service, and a three per cent spike in calls for service, overall.
There were 372,750 service calls that required police response in 2007, and more were urgent.
And while violent crime rose two per cent — for a total of 5,160 incidents — other categories decreased, including property crimes (down seven per cent, to 25,047) and other Criminal Code offences (down two per cent, to 15,871).
One category that saw a sharp rise, however, was fatal collisions. According to the report, 40 people died as a result of traffic collisions on city roads in 2007, up 15 from 2006.
It was the first increase in fatal collisions since 2003 and the most since 1998.
Despite the jump, chief medical officer Dr. David Salisbury noted that one bad collision — like the one that killed three Carleton University students early this year — can cause a 10 per cent difference in the results.
“That’s the kind of thing we’re seeing and I think we need to be careful not to make too many snap decisions based on what we’re seeing,” he said.
Deputy Chief Sue O’Sullivan blamed 80 per cent of deadly collisions on “aggressive” driving.
“It’s anything from driver error, loss of control, excessive speed …” said O’Sullivan.
“That’s why in 2008 we really want to focus … around aggressive driving.”
– With files from Tim Wieclawski