It’s not the sort of headline you would expect to see in Yorkton, but it is one which is food for thought for both local residents and public officials.
The headline in question was on the front page of last week’s edition of Yorkton This Week; ‘Yorkton crime still seventh worse’.
Figures released by Statistics Canada late last month show that Yorkton continued to hold the seventh worst crime severity rate in Canada in 2011.
Statistics Canada’s annual Crime Severity Index (CSI) tracks the volume and seriousness of crimes committed in 239 Canadian communities with populations over 10,000. The data for 2011 was released on July 24.
The rather dismal showing does not seem to be a major surprise to local residents, at least if the results of this week’s online YTW poll is an indicator.
The question asked was pretty straight forward; Does the crime severity rank of Yorkton surprise you?
Seventy-eight per cent of respondents clicked ‘no’.
The poll results might well be as surprising as the Statistic Canada CSI. In general terms Yorkton is still a community where walking the streets is something you can do without keeping one eye over your shoulder.
And in some respects crime has actually been reduced in the city.
This year’s CSI reveals that Yorkton showed slight improvement on two of the three major indexes measured (overall crime severity and non-violent crime severity), but still held its rank from 2010 of seventh worst in the country overall.
In that respect it follows a Canadian trend.
On a national scale, crime continues to steadily decline in Canada. The Canada-wide crime rate is now at its lowest point since 1972.
However, Saskatchewan is not faring as well.
Saskatchewan’s crime severity was the highest of the provinces in 2011 while Ontario’s was the lowest.
That point tells a lot about the CSI.
Statistics over small populations can more easily be skewed by the occurrence of a few crimes. Would you feel safer walking in Yorkton after midnight? Or, Toronto?
But a single violent crime in our city has a greater impact when looking at things such as per capita incidences than would a single violent crime among the millions living in Toronto.
Still a violent crime can more quickly ripple through a small city too, witness the senseless death of Jimmy Wiebe in 2011.
That means we need to be more diligent of helping authorities prevent crime, and that is where a program such as HUB, detailed in a June 20 YTW story is so important.
The Hub, being a group of individuals representing a wide range of groups dealing with various aspects of concern, mental health, addictions, education and the RCMP among them, can discuss a particular individual’s circumstances and dispatch the appropriate agency to help them.
It’s not about creating something totally new in terms of agencies, but rather to better utilize the resources already in place.
The headline might well be a good thing in that it reinforces the need to do more, and it is good to see programs such as Hub now up and running in hopes of reducing crime by getting to those at risk before they cross the line.
Hopefully programs like Hub will help as fall rapidly down the CSI rankings in the future.