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Sexual offences in Taber see spike in 2016

Posted on February 16, 2017 by Taber Times
TIMES FILE PHOTO BY NIKKI JAMIESON

By Trevor Busch
Taber Times
tbusch@tabertimes.com

Annual statistical tallies for criminal, traffic, and drug-related offences in the community in 2016 are now in, and they show percentage increases in a number of key areas including sexual offences, weapons possession, and break and enters.

Delivered to the Taber Municipal Police Commission at their Jan. 11 regular meeting, the statistical analysis also showed minor increases in impaired driving, drug trafficking and assaults, among other areas.

“A review of the sexual assault categories indicates there were 19 reports of sexual assault this past year,” said Chief Graham Abela in his written analysis of the statistical information. “In four of the cases, the complainants recanted their stories to police. There are numerous reasons for this. It is my experience that not all cases of recanting indicate that something did not happen, but that when the potential victim is sober they change their minds about reporting or simply do not want to proceed. We have programs in place to allow victims the ability of proceeding later if they wish, and we take specialized training in trying to help victims through these crises and have partnerships with social service agencies to also provide help.”

False reports of sexual incidents represent a significant draw on police resources, added Abela.

“Two of the cases should not have gone to CCJS, as in one case the accused was deceased, and the other was a youth report who did not give a statement. With the scoring rules, this means that six of these reports are not properly captured within the CCJS system. In cases where public mischief is clear, I will be urging officers to create a second public mischief file and proceed. However, a more accurate reflection of what is happening in our community would be to score 13 reports of sexual assault. This should not be taken lightly, as the number of hours that are spent investigating false reports are many.”

Year to Date Statistical Comparison (for 2016)

The initial number in the following information pertains to year-to-date statistical information for 2016, while the secondary number refers to year-to-date statistical information for 2015.

Traffic: Impaired operation 56 (48), representing a 17 per cent increase over 2015; dangerous operation of a motor vehicle 0 (2), representing a 100 per cent decrease over 2015; traffic collisions 123 (134), representing an eight per cent decrease over 2015; provincial traffic offences 1844 (2181), representing a 15 per cent decrease over 2015.

Liquor Act: 136 (149), representing a nine per cent decrease over 2015.

Other Criminal Code: 194 (203), representing a four per cent decrease over over 2015; offensive weapons 12 (8), representing a 50 per cent increase over 2015; corruption/public mischief 5 (9), representing a 44 per cent decrease over 2015.

Drug Enforcement: Trafficking 25 (21), representing a 19 per cent increase over 2015; possession 42 (46), representing a nine per cent decrease over 2015; other 10 (6), representing a 67 per cent increase over 2015.

Crimes Against a Person: Sexual offences 19 (8), representing a 138 per cent increase over 2015; robbery/extortion/harassment/threats 105 (90), representing a 17 per cent increase over 2015; offences related to death or endangering life 1 (0), representing a 100 per cent increase over 2015; kidnapping/hostage/abduction 4 (1), representing a 300 per cent increase over 2015; assaults 97 (83), representing a 17 per cent increase over 2015.

“On review of the kidnapping et al category, there were two of the reports scored as unlawful confinement,” said Abela in his report. “Two of those reports were cleared by charge and two were unfounded. So on review, we see that we actually only had one more actual report within this crime category, however, the scoring rules demonstrate differently. This is one of the problems with uniform crime reporting.”

Crimes Against Property: Theft under $5,000 162 (137), representing an 18 per cent increase over 2015; theft over $5,000 26 (24), representing an eight per cent increase over 2015; possession of stolen goods 17 (14), representing a 21 per cent increase over 2015; fraud 48 (54), representing an 11 per cent decrease over 2015; break and enter 40 (21), representing a 90 per cent increase over 2015; arson 0 (1), representing a 100 per cent decrease over 2015; mischief 141 (155), representing a nine per cent decrease over 2015.

“Property crime is up. This is a trend occuring throughout Alberta, and one we were expecting to hit our community also,” said Abela in his analysis. “Break and enters and property crimes fuel the drug trade. As we have seen an increase in fentanyl and crystal meth usage in southern Alberta, we can draw a nexus in Calgary and one that may be occuring on a minor scale in and around our community. A saving grace for our police service is that we have a great solvability rate, meaning that if a property crime occurs, there is an excellent chance that it will be successfully solved and the offenders prosecuted.”

Bylaw: Traffic 47 (41), representing a 15 per cent increase over 2015; non-traffic calls 358 (420), representing a 15 per cent decrease over 2015.

Troubling statistical totals for 2016 show a 17 per cent increase in impaired driving, a 50 per cent increase in the possession of offensive weapons, a 19 per cent increase in drug trafficking, and a 138 per cent increase in sexual offences. Other notable statistical concerns include a 17 per cent increase in robberies, extortion, harassment and threats, a 17 per cent increase in assaults, and in property crimes, an 18 per cent increase in theft over $5,000, eight per cent increase in theft under $5,000, a 21 per cent increase in possession of stolen goods, and a 90 per cent increase in break and enter offences.

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