Mission’s latest crime stats tell confusing story

New method of recording incidents has boosted some numbers, year needed for proper comparisons

Crime statistics in Mission can be difficult to comprehend, but a change in the recording system has made 2019 stats even harder to analyze.

During his quarterly report to council, Mission RCMP’s new officer in charge (OIC) Insp. Stephen Corp explained why the latest stats are slightly askew.

“My timing couldn’t be worse as your new OIC. Jan. 1, 2019 marked a new reality for reporting on Canadian criminal justice statistics,” he said.

At the beginning of the year, police across the country began reporting on crime in a different way.

Corp said police historically categorize complaints in one of three manners: founded, unfounded or unsubstantiated.

“Unsubstantiated complaints represented probably the bulk of the complaints we attend to,” said Corp, adding that, in previous years, unsubstantiated complaints were not reflected in crime statistics, but now they are.

Due to the addition of these complaints, comparing this year’s stats to last can cause a perceived rise – “dramatic is some cases,” Corp said – in crime stats.

Perhaps the biggest example of this comes in the drug trafficking stats. From January to September of 2019, there were 69 incidents, compared to 15 during the same period in 2018. That’s an increase of 360 per cent.

“We get an awful lot of calls about suspicious vehicles parked in a certain location at an odd time of the day. Typically those reports come in as drug trafficking,” Corp said.

“Previously, if we showed up and the cars were gone… that wouldn’t be reported as a crime statistic, where today it is. So, crime stats are now more accurately referred to as reported crimes by the public.”

Total violent crimes are also up this year – to 574 incidents compared to 443 last year.

That’s an increase of 30 per cent. However, spousal violence stats have decreased by 11 per cent from 89 in 2018 to 79 this year.

“While no level of spousal violence is acceptable, it is encouraging to note that even with the change, we recognize a decrease in spousal violence reports,” Corp said.

While he called the new stats an example of comparing apples to oranges, Corp said they still need to be examined and will be more valuable in the following year.

“Beginning in 2020, we will actually have some stats that we can compare and make more sense of.”

Other year-to-date stats include:

  • drug possession down two per cent;
  • total property crime up 24 per cent;
  • business break-and-enters down seven per cent;
  • residential break-and-enters no change;
  • all other break-and-enters up 70 per cent;
  • auto theft up three per cent;
  • theft from auto up 33 per cent; and
  • shoplifting up 37 per cent.
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