City still atop Maclean's crime ranking

Prince George continues to lead Maclean’s Magazine’s annual crime ranking as the country’s most dangerous city even though only one homicide was reported in the city in 2011.

Maclean’s uses data from Statistics Canada for municipal police services using the crime severity index (CSI) score for the country’s l00 largest cities of 10,000 people or more. They take into account the rates for six crimes – homicide, sexual assault, aggravated assault, vehicle theft, robbery, and breaking and entering – then compare them to the national average, calculating the percentage difference. Maclean’s then calculates the ratios by dividing the population by the raw number of crimes.

The crime severity index complements the traditional crime rate statistic by ranking the severity of police-reported crimes in comparison to other crimes.

The news that Prince George is, once again, leading the pack as Canada’s most dangerous city is surprising since a Statistics Canada report including the CSI rankings showed that the city dropped 20 points to 159 in 2011, the lowest overall the city had experienced.

The rate of violent crimes dropped about 20 per cent as well, from 196 to 158.

In a press conference this summer discussing the numbers, Supt. Eric Stubbs said several strategies were put in place to tackle the criminal activity giving the city its rather notorious reputation, thanks to Maclean’s annual report.

The crime reduction team targeted prolific offenders, mid- to high-level gang members became the focus of investigators, and the downtown enforcement unit reduced crime in that area by 20 per cent.

Two to three times every week search warrants helped remove everything from drugs and weapons from the streets while offenders were arrested.

Challenges particular to the city, Stubbs explained during the conference, included the significant number of transients who travel through the city, property crimes, which were experiencing a spike and a continuing concern about gangs and guns.

Compare this to 2010, when the city earned the most dangerous city title thanks in great part to seven murders that year.  Cody Alan Legebokoff has been charged with two of those murders and a 2009 murder.

Two others occurred in a grow-op outside the city and were drug-related and the other three were resolved or were in the process of moving through the court system.

Yet going from seven murders in 2010 to one murder in 2011 doesn’t seem to have affected the city’s rating as most dangerous city in the country according to the way Maclean’s calculates its rankings.

According to the magazine, the top 10 most dangerous cities are: Prince George, Red Deer, Grande Prairie, Regina, Surrey, Saskatoon, Wood Buffalo, Victoria, Winnipeg and Kelowna, all in the west and in fact all the same cities that made the top 10 list last year, if in a slightly different order – with the exception of Prince George.

Though the city didn’t rank at all in the top 15 cities with the highest homicide rates, it came in fourth in sexual assaults, eighth in aggravated assaults, 14th in robberies, third in breaking and entering, and ninth in motor vehicle thefts.


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