Crime rates in Burns Lake increased slightly in 2018, after falling since 2014, the latest statistics show. (Black Press Media file photo)

Crime up in Burns Lake in 2018, stats show

Crime rates rose in Burns Lake last year compared to 2017, but are lower than they were five years ago, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada released at the end of July.

The local RCMP responded to 556 incidents in 2018, slightly more than the 511 incidents in 2017, but less than the 860 in 2014.

While the incidents have decreased, the number of people charged has increased from 81 in 2014 to 209 last year.

Of that number, 80 people were charged with violent criminal code violations in 2018. Seventy-two were charged in 2017 and the highest number charged in the last four years was 93, in 2015.

Impaired driving incidents were at a four-year high of 49 in 2018, after decreasing from 38 to 25 between 2014 and 2017. Charges for impaired driving rose from four in 2014 to 19 in 2018.

That might appear like a discouraging trend, but it means that police have been more vigilant in pursuing impaired drivers, as Cpl. Greg Willcocks of the Burns Lake RCMP told a village council meeting in February.

“When impaired driving is up that’s never a good thing but it’s almost like a double-edged sword. The majority of impaired driving files and charges are because of the officers going out and proactively catching those drivers,” he said.

READ MORE: Crime rates in Burns Lake down in 2018, RCMP says

Level 1 sexual assault incidents – meaning assault that leaves minor or no injuries to the victim – were at 17 last year, the highest number recorded since 2014. Nine people were charged with that crime in 2018.

RELATED: Sexual assaults, extortion on the rise even as crime rates stay low: Stats Canada

Eight sexual violations against children were recorded last year, and four people were charged. There were 10 incidents in 2015, when six people were charged.

The 12 drug violations in 2018 were the lowest recorded since 2014. Three people were charged in drug-related crimes last year.

No opioid-related crimes have been recorded since 2014.

Property crime rates have fallen steadily, from 371 incidents in 2014 to 116 in 2018. Thirteen were charged last year.

Mischief is also decreasing, with 57 incidents recorded in 2018, down from 260 five years ago. Four people were charged last year.

The village’s crime severity index (CSI), which gives a value based on the seriousness of crimes, was at a five-year low in 2018 of 78.86 per cent, down from 86.33 per cent in 2017.

In neighbouring Houston, the number of incidents police responded to has increased, as have the number of people charged.

There was a total of 466 incidents last year, and 188 people charged; up from 363 incidents in 2014, with 134 charged. Last year marked the highest number of people charged in the last five years.

Violent criminal code violation incidents were at 107 in 2018, up from 83 in 2014, but down from 121 in 2017. Eighty people were charged in 2018, the highest number since 2014, when 50 were charged.

Impaired driving incidents were at a high of 27 last year, after falling from 20 in 2014 to 17 in 2016. Charges have decreased from 13 in 2014 to eight in 2018.

Six sexual assault (level 1) incidents and five charges were noted last year, the highest numbers since 2014.

Drug violations were at their highest in five years in 2018, with 29 incidents and five people charged.

Property crime is a bigger problem in Houston than in Burns Lake, with 122 incidents recorded last year and 15 people charged. There 96 incidents in 2014, and 135 in 2017.

Mischief trends in Houston have been fluctuating and there were 52 incidents in 2018 and six people charged. The rate peaked at 70 incidents in 2017, up from 39 in 2014.

Houston’s CSI was at 102.08 per cent in 2018, down from 120.15 per cent in 2017.

Blair McBride
Multimedia reporter
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