Council weighs in on crime severity

In a meeting last night, city council met with the head of Terrace's RCMP to talk about a report that showed a high crime severity rate.

  • Aug. 14, 2012 7:00 p.m.

The head of Terrace’s RCMP is waiting to hear back from Statistics Canada about a report which showed Terrace in the top 10 Canadian cities for crime severity.

The 2011 Crime Severity Index released by StatsCan recently ranked 239 cities with a population of more than 10,000, placing Terrace at 10th from the top of its list — up from its 29th place ranking two years ago.

Terrace RCMP Insp. Dana Hart and Terrace’s city council weighed in on the report at a meeting yesterday.

The formula used for the report came about in 2009, explained Hart to council, noting there is a difference between crime rate and crime severity index.

While the number of crimes in the Terrace area in 2011 rose by 147 overall, that would represent itself as a slight increase in rate. The formula for crime severity involves a multitude of factors.

“Any crime, even maintaining a constant year after year, is still not acceptable,” said Hart to council.

But when taking a closer look at how the statistics are arrived at, Hart noted that crime severity puts weight on the seriousness of a crime.

“It takes a look at our crime rate and it also looks at court cases handed down during the year,” he said.

As Terrace serves as a court hub for other regional communities, crimes committed elsewhere could be added in to the statistics weighing Terrace in the report.

“For example, a homicide that occurred in Kitimat,” he said, “We are being attributed to it.”

Another point raised by Hart is that many crimes committed in 2011 with charges pressed have not yet gone before the courts.

“Charges in 2011 have not yet gone to court,” he said.

“Not to diminish that we did have a slight increase in criminal activity,” he said.

“Obviously the community doesn’t need to be too alarmed by that report that came out,”  said Terrace’s mayor Dave Pernarowski during the meeting.

Councillor Bruce Bidgood, who also works as a UNBC prof, added that statistics don’t always accurately reflect what they intend to.

“This could be a reflection of better policing,” he said, noting more arrests or charges doesn’t necessarily mean less crime.

Bidgood added that from what he’s heard, people are feeling safer in Terrace’s downtown compared to years before.