NORTH BATTLEFORD - The crime statistics are going up across the board in North Battleford.
That is what one takes away from the statistical summary for 2022 for North Battleford Municipal Detachment of the RCMP. Battlefords RCMP Inspector Jesse Gilbert presented those statistical numbers to council at Monday night’s meeting at Don Ross Centre. The numbers mostly painted a grim upward trend compared to five years ago.
According to the five-year numbers presented for North Battleford for 2022, the grand total of calls was 16,687, up 25 per cent from 13,354 in 2018.
The major crime categories were also, mostly, up. At the end of 2022, persons offences in North Battleford were at 1,333 for a 13 per cent rise from 2018. The numbers included a 15 per cent rise in robberies, a 32 per cent rise in firearms offences, a 17 per cent rise in assaults and 20 per cent rise in sexual assaults. North Battleford had three homicides in 2022, up from one in 2018 but below the five of 2020.
For property offences, those were up 24 per cent in the five years to 4,409, with break and enters up 13 per cent, mischief up 40 per cent and having or trafficking stolen goods up 69 per cent.
Other criminal code offences were up 25 per cent to 2,685 including a 98 per cent rise in administration of Justice offences, up from 623 to 1236.
Provincial traffic offences were up 47 per cent and non-offence codes up 29 per cent. The one area that was down was Criminal Code Traffic offences, down 16 per cent from 355 to 297.
Year-to-year quarterly changes from 2021 to 2022 were somewhat less dramatic. For the report from October through December, 2022, compared to the same period a year earlier persons offences were up 15 per cent, property offences up two per cent, other Criminal Code offences up six per cent, but criminal traffic offences were unchanged.
Outside the city limits, crime trends over the past five years have risen even more than within North Battleford. Persons offences were up in the rural detachment area by 37 per cent, property offences up 33 per cent, other Criminal Code offences up 43 per cent, and provincial traffic offences up 146 per cent over that period.
There were also increases noted for the Town of Battleford which saw persons offences up 59 per cent, property offences up 31 per cent and other Criminal Code offences up 58 per cent over the five years. Insp. Gilbert had presented to Battleford town council the previous week.
With respect to the city numbers, Insp. Gilbert told North Battleford council they plan to do a “deep dive” on the persons crimes and attempt to figure out what is causing the increase so they can put resources towards that.
They are also planning a deep dive on the 2022 numbers as well. Part of the reason for that is they want to know exactly where they were prior to initiatives the RCMP has planned for 2023, to see whether they made an impact.
Insp. Gilbert indicated to council that over the next six months they would notice “significantly enhanced policing” in the Battlefords and area.
The indication is F Division is committing a Crime Reduction Team there for six months, as well as the Warrant Enforcement Team, their Street Gang coordinator, and also Indigenous Policing Services.
“The hope is we’re going to impact some gang activity here in the Battlefords,” Gilbert told council. “I think we’re seeing some fairly significant interest in the Battlefords from our management and from district so I am very optimistic about 2023 moving forward.”
Gilbert did take the opportunity to point to work done by the Gang Task Force.
He said in the past week, multiple residences in North Battleford, plus one in Battleford and one in Edmonton, were searched. That operation resulted in the seizure of 8 kg of cocaine, 281 grams of Xanax tablets, more than 9000 pre-rolled cannabis joints, 898 cartons of contraband cigarettes, more than 35 kg of a cutting agent, a large sum of cash, and four illegally possessed handguns.
The individuals charged were all from North Battleford.
“I’m very pleased with the results which are fairly significant for a city, this size, and for a team that small,” Gilbert said. “It took a lot of coordination, we had unprecedented cooperation from the division with surveillance, sending units when we needed, and cooperation from the city police and K Division RCMP. I’m very happy, I’m very pleased with their activities and I’m giving example of how we’re going to continue to do business over the next couple of years.”
Gilbert added that during the month of March the plan is for the RCMP to reach out and ask to speak with the city, the town and their First Nations partners to get a sense of what exactly it is they are hoping for over the next year. “I think the public input from all of our partners is very important in setting our priorities,” Gilbert said.