The release of the police reported crime statistics for 2011 contained some mixed results for the city of Estevan.
Although Estevan rose in overall and non-violent crime numbers among communities with a population of at least 10,000 people, the city’s violent crime severity index dropped.
The annual report, which is compiled by Statistics Canada, is a tabulation of the crime numbers from over 200 police forces in the country. After taking stock of the numbers, Statistics Canada creates a crime index, which takes into account the types of crimes as well as other factors such as the population of each community.
Estevan’s overall crime index rose from 133 in 2010 to 156.7 in 2011, a figure which placed the Energy City 16th overall in Canada. The non-violent crime index also took a large jump, moving from 142.6 in 2010 to 180.1 in 2011. That spike moved Estevan all the way to eighth overall in the country.
If there was one positive in the report, it was in the violent crime severity index, a tabulation of such offences as assault, battery and sexual assault. After rising in 2010, the number dipped slightly in 2011, going from 108 to 96. Nationally, Estevan went from 54th place in 2010 to 58th in 2011.
The fact that Estevan’s overall crime index rose in 2011 was certainly not a surprise to anyone. As had been previously reported in The Mercury, crime has been on the rise over the past few years.
In July, the Estevan Police Service released the crime statistics for the first six months of 2012 and, as had been expected, crime was up considerably.
“For the first three years of my term as chief of police here we have set new records every year with the growth of the city,” Chief Del Block said in the July 11 edition of The Mercury. “We are on pace to set a new record in 2012 again for just about everything.”
Asked for his opinion on why crime has continued to rise, Block said the boom in the local economy has attracted a number of people who are assets to the community as well as a number of people who are more involved in “the criminal aspect.”
“I’ve quit calling it an oil boom, I call it an energy sector boom. We’ve got the mines expanding, we’ve got power expanding, the oil industry is expanding. It’s not just oil that is driving this. There are some huge projects going on at SaskPower; we’ve got a lot of transient workers, upwards of 600 on one job, so it’s not just oil that is creating the problems.”
Estevan was not the only Saskatchewan community to crack the upper reaches of the crime index. Regina ranked 25th overall but was first among communities with a population of at least 100,000 people while Saskatoon was 27th in the overall and second for larger cities.
Among Saskatchewan’s smaller centres, North Battleford had the highest ranking in not only the province but the entire country. North Battleford had an overall crime index of 361 and a non-violent index of 389.5 which was also first. For violent crimes it was third in the country with an index of 286.
Prince Albert was second for violent crime and fifth for overall crime. Yorkton placed seventh for overall crime and was ninth for violent crime.
Moose Jaw and Swift Current were the two other Saskatchewan communities in the rankings. Moose Jaw was 37th overall while Swift Current was 34th.
Nationally, crime continued to decline, dropping by six per cent from 2010. The violent crime index dropped by four per cent.