Williams Lake is once again at the top of the crime severity index of 303 cities with a population greater than 10,000.
Recently Statistics Canada released the 2014 police-reported crime statistics which showed Williams Lake was first for violent crime severity with a score of 314.2, up from 226.52 in 2013.
In overall crime severity, Williams Lake rated second with a score of 235.23, while North Battleford, Sask. was first with a score of 274.53.
As for non-violent crime, Williams Lake’s score dropped to 206 in 2014, from 213.26 in 2013.
In its calculation the index measures both the volume and the severity of crime in a community.
Insp. Milo MacDonald has only been with the Williams Lake RCMP detachment since July 21, 2015, but said the statistics indicate his force has an obligation to make an effort to reduce crime.
“When you walk around in Williams Lake it doesn’t appear to be dangerous,” he said, noting most people wouldn’t hesitate to take a child into the park to play and enjoy the afternoon.
“It certainly doesn’t feel like a community with an overwhelming crime problem, yet the stats are accurate and represent the number of events we’ve responded to,” he said.
MacDonald pointed out that one of the biggest issues with the crime severity index is the fact there aren’t many more than 10,000 people living in Williams Lake.
“You get communities that are much larger with the same volume of criminal activity occurring and the stats seem much more reasonable when distributed across a larger population.”
When reviewing the stats, local police know there is a small number of people involved in the criminal activity that’s reported, whether that’s the victims or the suspects, he added.
In the last few days, MacDonald has been to several meetings with community stakeholders, all of whom are already engaged with programs that are actively on the ground doing things to reduce crime pressures.
A lot of things are already happening that are having a positive impact and the community can expect to see more results in the coming year, he said.
Groups such as the Task Force on Homelessness, the Ministry of Children and Family Development, Boys and Girls Club, Mayor and Council, First Nations Chiefs and Councils, are all actively involved in addressing the root causes of crime.
The RCMP also plan to enhance the prolific offender program.
“The program has already been an effective way of taking the people who are involved in perpetrating the worst and most frequent criminal activity and dealing with them with whatever tools the system allows us to use.”
Presently about a dozen prolific offenders are identified by the local detachment.
“The list is as long as you want to make it,” MacDonald explained. “You decide what the criteria are for inclusion on the list, whether it’s volume of criminality, seriousness of criminality, or recency of criminality. It’s up to whoever compiles the list.”