Crime up in Ward 5 in 2018

OTTAWA — Ottawa Police Service (OPS) says the city felt a 13 per cent increase in crime over 2017 numbers while numbers jumped to 33 per cent in Ward 5.

That was the glaring stat out of the OPS’ 2018 Annual Report released yesterday (June 19).

“Today, the OPS’ 2018 Annual Report was released as part of the June 24 meeting of the Ottawa Police Service’s board agenda,” OPS staff released in a statement. “The 2018 Annual Report offers residents information about Criminal Code of Canada (CCC) offences for the City of Ottawa and 23 city wards. The information provides residents and visitors with a better understanding of crime, road safety and calls for service in Ottawa.”

In Ward 5 West Carleton-March the crime rate rose 33 per cent, but violent crimes dropped by two per cent. The rate is calculated per 100,000 of population. The population in Ward 5 in those two years was virtually the same, rising by less than 20 people according to city statistics.

In 2017, there were 239 crimes reported in the ward while that number rose to 319 in 2018. The Crime Severity Index rose by 23 per cent. That index is a measure of police-reported crime that reflects the relative seriousness of individual offences.

The OPS had a clearance rate (by charge or cleared otherwise) of 17 per cent in 2018, down almost six per cent. Calls for service in Ward 5 were down eight per cent to 4,272.

Some of the city-wide highlights from the report include:

•       With approximately 38,900 reported Criminal Code of Canada offences (excluding traffic) in the City of Ottawa, the level of reported crime increased by 13 per cent last year.

•       The clearance rate for total Criminal Code offences (excluding traffic) fell slightly in 2018 with 35 per cent of all cases cleared by charge or cleared otherwise.

•       Ottawa’s Crime Severity Index (CSI) rose by eight per cent last year to 54 – the Violent CSI increased by seven per ent to 64; while the Non-Violent CSI increased by nine per cent to 50.

•       The volume of reported non-violent crime in Ottawa increased by 14 per cent last year. Theft under $5,000 increased by 18 per cent in 2018; Fraud increased by 13 per cent; while Break and Enter increased by 12 per cent.

•       The volume of reported Violent Crime in Ottawa grew by 10 per cent in 2018. This was driven by a rise in Sexual Violations, Robbery, and Assaults resulting from internal process changes, greater public awareness and improved access to reporting online.

•       Of 691,000 calls received in 2018, over 322,800 were entered into the OPS dispatch system, with 73 per cent (234,900) requiring an on-scene police presence. This is in line with results from the prior year.

“Like many major metropolitan centres, since 2016 we have seen a rise in the volume of reported crime,” OPS staff said. “Compared to the most recent results from the General Social Science Survey (2014) on Canadians’ Safety, Ottawa residents are twice as likely to report incidents of crime (70 per cent). We continue to monitor the rise in crime. Analysis has confirmed it is in part due to changes in reporting mechanisms (online) and processes (coding). As previously reported, in 2017 new processes were put in place in how the OPS responds to high-frequency but low-risk calls where there is no suspect, no evidence, no immediate danger, or no witnesses to be immediately interviewed at the scene.”

Police Reporting Unit (PRU) agents now take reports for incidents that is subsequently followed up on by investigative units. Based on the information provided when reports are received, incidents are now captured as a criminal offence as opposed to a call for service. These reports can include assaults, threats, suspicious incidents, and disturbances.

In addition, Statistics Canada made changes to reporting standards for Uniform Crime Report in 2018 that has an impact on clearance rates and the number of criminal incidents. In response to media attention on the classification of sexual assaults, Statistics Canada amended the definition of founded incidents.

“The new definition is victim-centered and includes incidents where there is no credible evidence to confirm that an incident did not take place,” staff said. “Despite the recent increases, the severity and rate of crime in Ottawa remains well below results from a decade ago, and significantly below the national average. The OPS continues to work together with our communities to address this emerging trend.”