Williams Lake’s crime rate continues to be high in Canada — and it’s still the highest in B.C. — according to the latest crime severity statistics from Statistics Canada.
For 2011, Williams Lake was given sixth place out of 239 Canadian police service communities with a population of more than 10,000 when it comes to overall crime.
However, that is two ranks lower than the previous year, when the city received an overall ranking of four.
While the Crime Severity Index values released earlier this week show the city’s rank has improved, when it comes to violent crime, the city has kept its former rank of four.
For non-violent crime, the city received a rank of seven, an improvement of three ranks since the previous year.
In 2008 and 2009, Williams Lake was the crime capital of Canada, as it was ranked at number one.
Now North Battleford, Sask. carries the national crime capital label for the second year in a row. Thompson, Man. ranked second, also for the second year.
Yellowknife, NWT received a rank of three, Portage La Prairie, Man. four, and Prince Albert, Sask. five.
No one from the Williams Lake RCMP was available for comment Wednesday, but Mayor Kerry Cook says even though the city is ranked sixth, there has been a 43 per cent reduction in crime since it was the crime capital of Canada.
She explains that the overall crime severity value for 2011 is 198.2, whereas it used to be 348.1
“Not only were we number 1, but we were way ahead of everyone else,” Cook says. “So that’s a significant reduction.”
Ranks are also affected by how other communities’ crime rates have improved or have worsened.
Cook adds that Williams Lake is one of the busiest detachments in the province and in the country. She gives kudos to Insp. Warren Brown and the rest of the detachment, as well as community policing for making a positive difference.
Statistics Canada’s numbers note Williams Lake has a population of 10,864. However, the detachment also serves the outlying areas not included in the report.
“The bottom line is that we recognized we had a significant challenge and we’ve addressed it. We put things in place, we have great people, and we are moving in the right direction,” Cook says.
She says resources are an issue, so council tries to be as efficient as much as possible with the available tools, such as passing a false alarm bylaw, for example.
She says a lot of work still needs to be done, especially when it comes to domestic violence and other violent crime. She says the city continues to address those issues.
She says partnerships, working with the community, and bringing in domestic violence workshops, for example, all play an integral role in making the community safer.
“It’s unfortunately not happening overnight but we are moving in the right direction.”
The crime severity table can be found via www.statcan.gc.ca.