As crime rates drop across most of the country, the number of crimes committed in P.E.I. went up in 2012, according to the latest report from Statistics Canada.
But RCMP Sgt. Andrew Blackadar said that when the statistics for P.E.I. are compared to other provinces the numbers are relatively small.
“That’s always been the problem with numbers in Prince Edward Island is because we’re dealing with such a lower overall number of crime a small fluctuation in number will be a big fluctuation in the percentage rate,” he said.
Statistics Canada released the police-reported crime statistics Thursday and they show the overall number dropped three per cent in Canada for a total of 1,949,160.
P.E.I. had the second smallest number of police-reported crimes last year among all the provinces and territories with 9,532, which was up four per cent and it was the second year in row that the number of reported crimes increased in the province.
In 2012 there were 434 more crimes reported in P.E.I. than in the previous year.
Only the Yukon had fewer reported crimes with 7,479, while Quebec had the most with 542,445.
Blackadar said the number of property crimes was a big factor in driving the overall number up, it’s a number that goes up and down as certain people involved in crimes are incarcerated.
“When we target a number of prolific property crime offenders we get them in jail and we see they’re sentenced for a period of time our numbers drop severely and that’s why there’s a fluctuation,” he said.
Along with the numbers of reported crimes, Statistics Canada also released the crime severity index, which weighs how severe the crimes are, along with how many are reported.
P.E.I.’s total crime severity index was 72.6 out of a possible 100 last year, which was up nine per cent over 2012 and was fourth lowest in the country.
The violent crime severity index was 45.1 in P.E.I., which was the lowest of all the provinces and territories.
Blackadar said one of the big things is that the number of violent crimes in P.E.I. is relatively low compared to the rest of the country.
“That’s really staying almost status quo,” he said.
In 2012 there were 1,707 violent crimes reported, which was up by 48 over the previous year.
Although the overall numbers were up, there was a substantial drop in the number of reported impaired driving incidents at 480, which was down 239 from 2011.
That reduction was due in part to a change in the way Charlottetown police reported impaired driving calls.
Blackadar said what those figures don’t reflect are the high blood alcohol readings for some people or the number of repeat offenders.
“That’s still causes a lot of concern,” he said.
For Justice Minister Janice Sherry, she said she didn’t need to see the report to know the number of break and enters was up in P.E.I.
“I think everybody reads the paper and certainly from my vantage point we have seen those numbers climb up,” she said.
Sherry said her departmental staff is going to analyze the numbers and get back to her with what exactly they mean for P.E.I.
But Sherry said there are underlying factors that lead to crime, such as drug use and alcohol addiction that contribute to increases in crime.
“There’s no secret in that,” she said.
The government is looking at the root causes of crime to deal with those issues, she said.
“We feel that if we continue to focus there that will help with the crime rates.”