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Criminal activity up slightly in 2017

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

The crime rate in Durham continues to climb as we approach the end of 2018 according to a community safety report from Durham Regional Police.

Having gone up another three per cent between 2016 and 2017 the crime rate in Durham has gone up a total of eight per cent since 2015.

“Crime increases generally involve a myriad of factors, such as density, income, etc. and of course, there is a connection to a growing population,” says DRPS Chief Paul Martin.

During the rise in Durham’s crime rate however, violent crime dropped 0.1 percent in 2016-17 after going up 7.3 per cent in 2015-16.

So far in 2018, there have been nine homicides, which matches the total seen in 2017.

“Of concern are the nine homicides we’ve had year-to-date. We had nine all of last year,” says Martin. “but we generally average between four and six homicides a year. So we’re hoping this isn’t a trend and that we see a return to historical levels in 2019.”

Property crime in Durham has also rose 2.8 per cent in 2017. This means it has risen 6.5 per cent since 2015.

Property crime is when someone commits burglary, larceny, theft, vandalism, as well as other acts against a person’s property.

DRPS is currently conducting a public opinion survey that is meant to collect information on the sense of security felt by members of the Durham community. The last time DRPS ran a survey like this was between September 2015 and January 2016.

The survey asked participants if they felt safe during both day and night in a variety of different settings. These included open areas, roads and downtown centres.

85 per cent of respondents indicated that they usually or always felt safe during the day, and 73 per cent said the same at night.

During the day, 95 per cent felt secure in their homes, and 91 per cent in malls and plazas. 83 per cent said that they felt safe while driving in Durham, as well as while walking alone in their own neighbourhoods.

Seventy-seven per cent reported feeling safe while downtown, 78 per cent while walking in parks, and 79 per when taking public transit.

At nighttime, 73 per cent of those surveyed said that they felt safe at night in Durham, while 90 per cent said they felt safe in their homes.

Eighty per cent of those surveyed said that they felt safe in their local mall or plaza, and 79 per cent said they feel safe while driving at night.

While walking in downtown cores at night, a mere 58 per cent of those surveyed felt safe. In their own neighbourhood, 66 per cent said they felt safe, and 65 per cent felt safe taking public transit. While walking in parks at night, only half of respondents said that they felt safe enough to do so.

Those surveyed were also asked how they often the fear of crime kept them from doing things that they would like to do. According to the report, 69 per cent said that they rarely or never let the fear of crime keep them from doing what they wanted to do.

Finally, the survey indicated that 77 per cent of those surveyed felt that the roads are usually or always safe around Durham.

DRPS response time to emergency calls has been consistent since 2016, with the average emergency response time being eight minutes and 55 seconds in 2017.

The clearance rate for the region shows that DRPS clsoed approximately 44.8 per cent of crimes, whether that is via charges or otherwise, in 2017, which is up 1.1 per cent from 2016.

“Durham Region remains a very safe place to live, work and play and I am very proud of our members who work so hard every day to keep our communities safe,” says Martin.