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Crime statistics plummet in Battleford; no concrete reason why

Third-quarter statistics from the RCMP show a 43% decrease in criminal activity from July to September in the Town of Battleford
Inspector Gilbert presents second and third quarter crime statistics for 2023 to Battleford Town Council on Nov. 20

BATTLEFORD — When RCMP Inspector Jesse Gilbert brought the second and third-quarter crime statistics in a delegation to the Town of Battleford's Nov. 20 meeting, he told council that although crime statistics were dropping in the Town of Battleford, he wasn't sure why they're heading down.

"I will say I'm cautiously optimistic," Gilbert told council.

Although the five-year trends are up, with a 12 per cent increase from April to June, he said that there has been a 43 per cent decrease from July to September.

Documents presented to council show an overall decrease in the town's crime statistics in all categories from July to September, ranging from a 66 per cent decrease in Persons Offences which include homicide, robbery, and sexual assaults, a 32 per cent decrease in property offences, and a 42 per cent decrease in traffic offences.

However, there have been some increases in some categories in the rural areas and the City of North Battleford.

"One thing we've been trying to do and you've probably noticed this is to try and address some of the visibility issues we've been trying to rely on some units that are outside of our control," Gilbert said, referencing an increased number of traffic stops.

"I'd love to say that that work being done is what's leading to the decrease, with the extra visibility, I can't say that ... I think it might play into it," Gilbert added.

"We're kinda gonna have to wait and see what the next two quarters look like to see if this is just a blip or if there's going to be some more concrete trends going on."

The Battlefords have seen an increase in drug offences, but due to proactive work — referencing the execution of two warrants — that increase is not cause for alarm.

“I'm very happy with the numbers, I just don't want to say they're going stay that way. But I'm happy with the trend so far.”

After Gilbert's presentation, Council expressed their thanks to the RCMP for increasing their presence in town, and also for keeping the council in the loop regarding the decrease.

"Thank you for bringing this to us. It's always nice to see what's going on," Councillor Judy Pruden said.

Councillor David George inquired as to what was driving the change, beyond more visibility, with Gilbert noting that it stems from a range of issues, some of which could include prolific offenders moving out of the community.

Councillor George then asked about the legality of check stops, with Gilbert adding that under the Motor Vehicle Act, officers can inspect licensing and registration to ensure compliance. 

When it comes to testing for drugs or alcohol, Gilbert explained the RCMP are no longer required to have evidence before demanding a test from a driver, though he noted it's not often the case.

"The Supreme Court has ruled check stops are an infringement of your rights but it's a reasonable one."