VERNON - Crime jumped by nearly 20 per cent in Vernon in 2016, with both violent and non-violent crimes on the rise, according to Statistics Canada.
The crime severity index, which measures the volume and severity of crime and gives added weight to more severe crimes, rose to 156.9 last year in Vernon’s municipal zone, an 18.6 per cent jump over 2015.
Between 2012 and 2015, Vernon’s crime severity index was relatively stable, between 130 and 134.
In Vernon rural, the index rose by 37 per cent, up to 65 in 2016 compared to 47 in 2015. The number is still lower than it was in 2012, when the index was at 73.
In response to the statistics, Vernon Supt. Jim McNamara says a number of factors — including prolific offenders, serious offences like attempted murder, and targeted enforcement — can affect the numbers.
“Vernon is also a smaller city, and population size is a factor when determining rankings,” he says by email. “A single crime — either violent or non-violent — can have a more significant impact on crime severity rankings than it would in larger centres.”
Vernon experienced a number of violent incidents last year, including three where a firearm was discharged, McNamara says.
“These incidents, which were linked to the drug trade, would significantly impact the city’s violent crime rating,” he says.
The non-violent crime severity index for Vernon municipal leapt 19 per cent, to 172 compared to 144 in 2015. The jump was even more pronounced in Vernon rural, where the index rose to 80, a 37 per cent increase from 2015.
“The city experienced a spike in property-crime early in 2016, but targeted policing and pro-active initiatives resulted in the arrest of a number of prolific offenders,” McNamara says. “Once again, due to Vernon’s relatively small population size even one prolific offender can significantly impact the non-violent crime rating.”
The Okanagan is on the map when it comes to the country’s worst crime severity ratings. Kelowna is listed as fifth out of the top ten highest rated census metropolitan areas with a crime severity index of 100.3. It also had one of the highest crime rates in the country for 2016.
In Vernon, Supt. McNamara says the detachment continues to focus on reducing crime.
“The Vernon RCMP remains committed to developing crime reduction strategies that identify and target known prolific offenders, and we will continue to work with our partners and the community to reduce all types of crime in Vernon,” he says.
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