Is Burns Lake safer than other towns?

Lakes District News compared crime stats among surrounding communities

While providing an overview of crime activity in Burns Lake to village council earlier this year, staff sergeant Charlotte Peters said Burns Lake was in “pretty good shape,” with decreasing numbers of violent crime and property crime.

But how does Burns Lake compare to nearby communities? Is Burns Lake more or less dangerous?

According to the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, when it comes to all violations reported in 2015 (excluding traffic incidents), Burns Lake had 704 incidents, significantly higher than Houston (402) and Fraser Lake (163).

Vanderhoof took the lead in the region, with 1095 reported incidents in 2015, followed by Fort St. James (974) and Smithers municipal area (885).

When it comes to the severity of crimes, however, Burns Lake and Fort St. James lead the region, even surpassing Prince George in 2015.

Burns Lake’s crime severity index (CSI) in 2015 was 160.53 – higher than Prince George (149.87) but lower than Fort St. James (188.2). Crimes in surrounding tows were less severe in 2015. Smithers’ CSI was 137.74; Vanderhoof scored 98.12; Houston scored 84.36; and Fraser Lake scored 50.37.

The CSI is a measure of police-reported crime that reflects the relative seriousness of individual offences and tracks changes in crime severity. It was first introduced in 2009 and was developed at the request of the policing community to address limitations to the traditional crime rate.

When it comes to the total number of persons charged in 2015, Fort St. James also leads the region with 304, followed by Vanderhoof (245), Burns Lake (187), Houston (161), Smithers (117) and Fraser Lake (23).

In Burns Lake, from January to November 2016, violent crime decreased by 10 per cent while property crime decreased by 16 per cent. However, there was an increase in the number of “cause disturbance offences” and “fail to appear in court.”

According to staff sergeant Peters, fail to appear in court offences have increased throughout the RCMP’s north district. And although cause disturbance offences have increased, Peters said they are not part of an emerging trend.

“Alcohol is a factor in these offences, but there isn’t a common location or offender committing these crimes,” she said.

In 2016, 42 impaired drivers were caught by police in Burns Lake, an increase of almost 100 per cent compared to the previous year.

“Police officers are being more pro-active and working harder, which for us is a good thing,” added Peters.