Despite a jump in crime statistics in 2010 the City of Trail and the Greater Trail area have realized a drop in overall crime in the last 10 years, according to figures recently released by the B.C. Ministry of Public Safety and the solicitor general.
Criminal Code offences have been dropping since a peak in 2005, from a high of 1,147 cases to 925 in 2010, the last year for the study. In 2009, total offences were 887.
Greater Trail RCMP Sgt. Rob Hawton said the drop is attributable to the establishment of the RCMP Crime Reduction Unit, a special forces group of officers assembled to target repeat type of offenders.
The unit was created with the purpose of proactive policing, closely monitoring and utilizing intelligence to keep “close tabs on these people” who habitually break the law, said Sgt. Hawton.
“It has had a significant impact on crime reduction in the area,” he explained. “It’s a general police presence so these people know they are being watched.”
It’s not “1984,” the George Orwell book about pervasive government surveillance, but an effort to ensure those who have crossed the line into unlawfulness are kept on the straight and narrow.
The unit monitors those people released on conditions, checking in to make sure they are abiding and not violating their parole.
Although the Criminal Code offences have decreased since 2001, a slight increase in offences from 2009 to 2010 has less to do with a rise in crime than isolated cases, said Sgt. Hawton.
“Quite often (CC offences) depend on who is out there at any given time,” he noted. “We find the majority of crime is a result of very few individuals. If you don’t have those individuals in your community at any given time, of course your crime rate goes down substantially.”
In the Greater Trail district, CC offences have dropped significantly, with only 414 cases undertaken in 2010, a steady decrease from 2003 when 700 were recorded.
In the rural areas the crime reduction unit has had the greatest effect, said Sgt. Hawton. Removing a few transgressors meant a major drop in the amount of incidents of crime.
“Sometimes things go in cycles,” he said. “We like to believe we are being effective, but there might be other factors involved in why that goes the way it does, like changing demographics.”
Upstream in Castlegar, CC offences for 2010 dipped to 834 from a total of 921 in 2009. Its 10-year crime peak occurred in 2006 when RCMP in the city dealt with 1,214 cases.
In the rural areas around Castlegar, CC offences have held steady over the last 10 years, with 234 offences recorded in 2010 — peaking at 276 in 2002.
Following up the Kootenay River to Nelson, a similar pattern unfolded in the Heritage City. CC offences rose in 2010 to 1,013 from 951 in 2009. But the total was still down from the 10-year high of 1,574 in 2002.
In the rural areas around Nelson, CC offences dropped from 554 in 2002 to 280 in 2010.
Trail lead the West Kootenay pack in violent CC offences in 2010, with 198 recorded. That number was down from a 10-year high in 2004 when 231 took place and above the low of 178 in 2006. The rural areas saw 110 cases in 2010, down from a high of 140 in 2003.
In Castlegar, 187 violent offences were recorded in 2010, its third highest amount in the last 10 years. There were 66 cases in the rural areas.
Nelson saw a reduction in 2010 to 150 cases, down from a peak of 240 in 2002, while there were 88 in the rural areas (146 in 2003).
Trail’s recorded sexual CC offences have been dropping since 2001 from 26 to five in 2010, while three cases were recorded in Greater Trail.
In 2010 Castlegar saw a huge rise in sexual offences, with 19 cases, eight ahead of its high of 11 in 2002. In rural areas, one case was filed. The Sunflower City was ahead of Nelson in 2010 where 10 sexual offences were recorded, two in the rural areas.
Cases of assault remained high in Trail in 2010 with 102, not much less than a 10-year high in 2007 where 130 took place.
It was also high in the outlying areas where 56 took place, still less than the 10-year high of 87 in 2007.
In Castlegar assaults rose to 85 in 2010, but dropped from a high of 104 in 2008. In the rural areas, 31 were recorded in 2010, down from 2001 when 38 took place.
In Nelson, assaults dropped to 91 in 2010 from a high in 2001 of 139, while the rural areas had 52, a steady decrease since a high of 77 in 2005.
Nelson was the place you were most likely to be stolen from in 2010 in the West Kootenay, with 385 CC offences occurring, while Trail recorded 154. Trail’s total has been steadily decreasing since 2001 when 274 cases were recorded.
Theft offences has dropped dramatically in the outlying areas around Trail, with 73 occurring in 2010, with 197 taking place in 2004.
Castlegar saw 141 theft offences in 2010, their lowest total in 10 years. Their highest total was 360 in 2007.
Disturbing the peace
If it is peace and quiet you seek, head to Nelson where the city had only 69 disturbing the peace offences, compared to 161 in Trail in 2010 and Castlegar with 142.
Unlike its West Kootenay counterparts, Trail had a relatively quiet 2010 when it came to CC drug offences, with only 73 cases recorded. But it was still one of the highest totals in 10 years, with 2009’s 74 cases being the highest. The lowest total came in 2001 with 33, but the incidences have risen steadily since.
Nelson led the West Kootenay in drug offences with 133 in 2010, its busiest year in over 10 years.
Around Nelson, the rural areas had 102 offences, while Castlegar recorded its busiest year with 95 offences, a 10-year high of 99 in the outlying areas.