Statistics Canada recently declared Saskatoon to have the second highest rate of crime in the country, after Regina. The report was released on July 24th, 2017 for crimes of the 2016 year. Charlie Clark, Saskatoon Mayor, stated that the crime statistics released on Monday by Statistics Canada show the need for an integrated approach to crime based on data and collaboration. The CSI (Crime Severity Index) rates 33 major Canadian cities based on various offences and the harshness of penalties they draw in court. Saskatoon’s CSI rating was 117.8 in 2016, an increase of 5.3 since 2015. Though some statistics can be marked as a positive (decrease in youth crimes) there are some major concerns regarding the increases in fraud and sexual assault. Incidents in fraud had increased by 30 percent and sexual assault jumped up to 44 percent. The stats also saw a jump in sexual violations against children and child pornography.
What is the cause of such high crime activity in Saskatoon?
The root causes of crime include poverty, racism, substance abuse and gang activity. These issues are believed to be where the focus is needed in order to decrease the crime statistics for 2017. It has come to a point where the authority’s debate on whether to put money into hospitals, more emergency room beds, jails, more prison cells or whether to strategically invest and find where people are really ‘falling through the cracks’. Clark stated that “the upcoming review of the city’s police service expected this fall could help identify an integrated approach where police work with health regions and social services professionals. This would result in a healthier community.”
A few options have been thrown around in order to better Saskatoon and shape the city into a healthier community. It is one thing to put more police on location; however the jails are already full. An integrated model where Saskatoon police work with partners in health, education, justice, and social services has the potential to do a more effective job in combatting the issue of crime in Saskatoon. Reports have found that those who were involved in crime activity in 2016 were often abusing substances, had mental health issues, or were subjected to poverty. It is issues such as this that are believed to be in need of attention in order to make Saskatoon a safer city, however immediate action is required in order to see some improvements for the 2017 year.
Not two weeks into the New Year, Saskatoon declared its first homicide for 2017 on January 11th. Daniel Forest, 27, was charged with second degree murder for the death of Rodney Wailing, 45, who died later in Royal University Hospital, succumbing to his injuries as a result of assault. Days later the second homicide was declared on January 17th, where Bailey Lonechild, 29, met his demise after being stabbed at home on the 100 block of Avenue M South at the hands of 25-year-old man, Curtis Kevin Morin. Lonechild had recently been released after serving five years in prison for the manslaughter of Justin Sproat, 17. Given the daunting start to the New Year, it is easy to agree with the findings of Statistics Canada as Saskatoon is declared to be the city with the second highest crime ratings in Canada for the second year running. Statistics for the 2017 year are expected to be released this time next year.