Kelowna’s crime rate is growing faster than any other city with more than 100,000 people across the country.
Data published by Statistics Canada on Thursday, Oct. 29, showed that the crime rate for the Kelowna census metropolitan area, encompassing Peachland through Lake Country, increased by 24 per cent in 2019, to 10,747 incidents per 100,000 people.
A census metropolitan area is defined as a region has a total population of at least 100,000 of which 50,000 or more live in the core.
That rate also leaves the area with the second-highest crime rate in the country among census metropolitan areas, second to only Lethbridge, Alta. The national average is 5,874 incidents per 100,000 people.
Greater Kelowna’s violent crime rate skyrocketed nearly 60 per cent, to 1,537 incidents per 100,000 people, plotting it behind only Lethbridge and Thunder Bay, Ont.
Kelowna also placed fourth among census metropolitan areas in the country on the Crime Severity Index at 121.4 — a more than 20 point increase from last year’s 101.1. Kelowna ranks behind Lethbridge (141.8), Winnipeg, Man. (131.7) and Regina, Sask. (130). Crime Severity Indexes are based on Criminal Code incidents, including traffic offences, as well as other federal statute violations.
The Kelowna area also had the highest rate of opioid-related drug offences in the country, with 124 per 100,000. Lethbridge follows with 95, only to be followed by a steep drop to Vancouver with 35.
Statistics Canada stated the increase in police-reported crime in B.C. may be partially attributable to the implementation of new reporting standards for classifying incidents across the province.
In November 2019, the Kelowna RCMP was reproached over its high number of sexual assault cases deemed unfounded in 2018 — nearly 40 per cent, dwarfing the provincial 15 per cent average.
After several protests and public outcry, the RCMP’s national sexual assault review team looked at the local detachment’s past cases, reclassifying several and reopening 12. The Kelowna RCMP implemented a sexual assault unit soon after.
For the 2019 numbers, reported sexual assaults nearly doubled, with 207 incidents reported. Of those, 27, or 13 per cent were deemed unfounded.
“Despite the rise in police-reported sexual assaults, the number of sexual assaults reported by police is likely a significant underestimation of the extent of sexual assault in Canada, as these types of offences often go unreported to police,” Statistics Canada states in its report.
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