Crime numbers questioned

photo courtesy of the Hay River RCMP An April 27 break-in at Monster Recreational Products – during which the front door was smashed to gain entry – was one of four break and enters in Hay River during April.

photo courtesy of the Hay River RCMP
An April 27 break-in at Monster Recreational Products – during which the front door was smashed to gain entry – was one of four break and enters in Hay River during April.

Usually, the monthly policing reports from the Hay River RCMP detachment are accepted by town council with not much comment.

However, some numbers in the report for April caught the attention of Coun. Steve Anderson.

“I just noticed in that comparison between April 2015 and April this year, the assaults have gone from 14 to 29, the Liquor Act has gone from six to 23 and causing a disturbance has gone from 29 to 49, and other complaints have gone from 62 to 90,” said Anderson at the May 16 meeting of council’s municipal services committee. “So I was just wondering about the rise in activity.”

The councillor requested that clarification be obtained from the RCMP on the numbers.

Mayor Brad Mapes suggested council ask the RCMP to appear before council on the matter.

Aside from the numbers quoted by Anderson, the report also revealed that some other instances of criminal activity were higher last month than in April 2015 – five thefts under $5,000 compared to one, four break and enters compared to two, and three instances of impaired driving compared to one.

There was little or no change in some categories, while the instances of drug trafficking fell from four in April 2015 to one last month.

In all, the number of total violations last month was 253, compared to 117 in April 2015.

“It’s not overly uncommon to see spikes in violation counts,” said Cpl. Greg Morrow when contacted by The Hub. “It’s definitely an anomaly that doesn’t happen very often but it does happen from time to time.”

Morrow also offered some insight in how the numbers are collected.

“The thing to bear in mind with these reports is that you may see a certain number, say for example under the assault category, that looks to be quite a high number, and in this case I think for April we had 29 assaults in the town of Hay River,” he said. “That doesn’t mean there were 29 separate files or occurrences. You may have multiple assault violations for the same file or occurrence. So that may explain some of the increased numbers there.”

In fact, Morrow said there were a couple of investigations last month involving multiple accused at several different locations in the same occurrence committing assaults on multiple people.

“So that would quickly inflate the violation numbers,” he said.

Morrow also pointed to the four break and enters last month compared to two in April 2015.

“We don’t really have a high property crime rate here,” he said, adding that two of the break and enters last month occurred at businesses.

Morrow was asked what residents of the community are to make of the overall numbers.

“I don’t think there is any cause for concern,” he said. “It’s a very dynamic situation where a lot of factors influence our response to occurrences and thereby influencing the numbers for any particular month for these reports.”

Morrow said it just happens that some months are busier than others.

“It’s not overly surprising that we have fluctuations from month to month,” he said.

The corporal said he will be happy to appear before town council and explain the numbers for April.

–Paul Bickford