The latest national stats show that Abbotsford-Mission is the ninth highest in overall crime among the 32 census metropolitan areas (CMAs) included by Statistics Canada for 2010, but the figures are somewhat misleading, says a local police spokesman.
Const. Ian MacDonald said although Abbotsford-Mission is high on the list – at an index of 99.8 compared to the national average of 82.7 – it’s doing better than the provincial average (102) and its neighbouring communities.
Chiliiwack’s crime severity index sits at 120, Langley Township is 108, Maple Ridge is 103, and Langley City is 175.
The index is a formula based on the number of crimes in a CMA and the severity of each offence.
MacDonald said what’s more important to note is that overall crime is down 12.3 per cent in Abbotsford (10 per cent when Mission is included) from 2009 to 2010, and violent crime has dropped 26 per cent (24 per cent with Mission).
He said the Abbotsford Police Department is proud of those figures and has worked hard to identify and tackle areas of concern.
Among the most significant drops in violent crime is the homicide rate. Abbotsford snared the title of “Murder capital of Canada” in the previous two years for its six homicides in 2008 and 11 in 2009.
Although specific murder rates for each CMA were not released in the latest Stats Canada national crime report, MacDonald said it’s fair to say that Abbotsford will not top the list for 2010 or this year.
The city recorded four murders last year and has none so far in 2011.
MacDonald said Abbotsford’s drop in violent crime can be attributed to three key areas. One is an acknowledgment by the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) and the community that there was a problem with gang warfare and drugs.
MacDonald said the second key was that something was done to address the issues. The APD launched a series of prevention campaigns – including presentations, posters and videos – aimed at steering kids away from the gang lifestyle and educating their parents about the issues.
But MacDonald said it took citizens’ embracing and supporting these initiatives for them to be successful.
He said the third factor in reducing violent crime was police enforcement, including the formation of a gangster list identifying criminals who “ply their trade” in Abbotsford. Police have kept close watch on these individuals and made arrests where possible.
“We have made it a very inhospitable place for gangsters,” MacDonald said.
He said the APD is optimistic about the coming year and what the Stats Can figures will show in 2012.
“I think we are on our way to what our intention and our mission are – to make Abbotsford the safest city in B.C.”
The Stats Canada report was released Thursday, showing that the national crime rate is at its lowest level since 1973. A total of 2.1 million Criminal Code incidents were reported across the country, about 77,000 fewer than in 2009.
For more information, visit statcan.gc.ca.