Statistics Canada released its Crime Severity Index (CSI) data on Tuesday, outlining the amount of crime reported across Canada for 2021, as well as the severity of the crimes reported.
The higher the number, the more crime is happening in a municipality, and the more severe those crimes are. Saskatoon ranked sixth highest on this list of 35 municipalities.
To give some context, Lethbridge had the highest CSI, with 128.7, Quebec ranked the lowest, with 42.6, and the national average is 73.7.
Saskatoon sat with a CSI of 106.
Looking at the breakdown of Saskatoon’s CSI, violent crimes have been rising, with a dip in 2020. Most notably, there was a leap in the violent crime severity index between 2018 and 2019.
There were almost 4,000 incidents of violent crime reported in 2017, but that rose to over 4,500 by 2021.
That being said, the non-violent crime severity index seems to be on a downward trend since 2017, with only a slight dip from 2020 to 2021.
Looking at all violations in Saskatoon, the number of actual incidents is dropping, going down to 27,101 in 2021 from 30,709 in 2017.
While the number of adults charged also dropped, to 10,097 in 2021 from 11,710 in 2017, the biggest shift was in the number of youth charged, dropping down to less than half (618) by 2021 from 1,385 in 2017.
Looking at the province as a whole, excluding the territories, Saskatchewan has the highest CSI in all of Canada.
Last year, Saskatchewan saw 149,519 total incidents when looking at all violations, and the Stats Canada report showed the previous four years had similar numbers.
An increase in violent crime is not just seen in Saskatoon, but provincially, with more than 4,000 more incidents being reported in 2021 than in 2017.
Troy Cooper, the Chief of the Saskatoon Police Service, said they’ve specifically seen an increase in hate motivated crimes across Canada.
“I think that just speaks more to the investment we’ve made in a hate crimes unit. So we’ll be doing a more thorough examination of offences to make sure we’ve documented the crimes that are occurring that should be fitting into those categories,” Cooper said.
Cooper added that the number they’ve seen has increased, but a small number of people are committing more than one offence.
“Hate crime in Canada is a really complicated area of the law, and so it’s important that we don’t just restrict ourselves to capturing specific offenses of hate offenses, hate crimes, but more broadly that we capture hate motivated offenses. I think that tells a more clear picture of what’s occurring.”
Cooper noted that there has also been an increase in sexual assaults, but said that number may have increased as much as it has because of the lack of places to report it in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our goal is to increase reporting. We know that this is one of the most under-reported areas of offending in Canada, and what we want to make sure is that people who have been victimized feel comfortable in reporting that offense so that we can make sure that they are supported, and that support might include criminal charges, or criminal investigations.”
The number of sexual assaults in Saskatoon rose between 2020 and 2021, going from 286 to 298 incidents, but dropped from the five-year peak seen in 2019, which was 393.
Last year also saw the most people charged for sexual assault in Saskatoon over a five-year span.
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