By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
Crime numbers are on the rise across Durham, but the police are quick to remind residents that the statistics don’t tell the whole picture.
Compared to this time last year, Durham has seen a 13 per cent increase in violent crimes, mainly driven by a jump in sexual assault and assault Level 1 charges. Along with that, property crimes increased by 13 per cent and break and enters saw a 16 per cent jump.
Overall, the police force saw a five percent increase in calls for service for the first quarter of 2018 over this time last year, jumping to 23,594 calls. However, the emergency calls for service saw a much steeper rise as it increased 17 per cent. According to police documents the high number was driven by an increase in domestic related calls and unknown trouble calls. Despite the increase, DRPS were able to maintain a median response time of seven minutes.
At the most recent meeting of the Police Services Board, police officials noted that there were underlying factors for many of the increases seen over the course of the start of the year.
In terms of sexual assault, the police saw an increase in historic reports, and point to the #MeToo movement surrounding women’s empowerment and the willingness to come
forward resulted in the high numbers being reported.
In the case of property crime, Chief Paul Martin noted that unfortunately, many of the calls driving the increase (theft under $5,000) are completely preventable, with fuel theft account for one third of the increase.
“A lot of what we’re seeing is either inaction on the part of some organization or changes in policies on the part of the others,” Martin says. “A lot of our online reporting thefts, which we’ve had an increase of reports online of well over 200, most of those are to do with these gas thefts, they’re reporting them to us after the fact and it is completely preventable.”
Martin also pointed out that other increased observed this year could be attributed to difference policy changes within organizations.
For example, he pointed to the change at long-term care homes where incidents of assault are now reported to the police. As well, he suggested that the increases in retail space and the fact that many retail stores, including the LCBO, are taking a more hands-off approach when it comes to shoplifting.
“They call us after the fact it’s one of those cases where it becomes more difficult to solve if we don’t have the offender,” Martin says.
Moving forward, he says the police are working with the different organizations to try and find solutions.
“That’s on our radar and that’s what we’re attempting to do with some of these organizations and prevent the preventable.”