Greater Victoria recorded the second-highest rise across Canada in its Crime Severity Index. (Black Press Media file photo)

Greater Victoria recorded the second-highest rise across Canada in its Crime Severity Index. (Black Press Media file photo)

Greater Victoria sees second-highest increase in severe crime across Canada

Higher property and drug-related crimes led to the spike, with only Kelowna recording higher increase

An index measuring crime in Greater Victoria rose by double-digits in 2019, according to new figures from Statistics Canada, with the region leading the country in newly reported non-violent crimes such as property and drug crimes.

They show that the Victoria Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) reported the second-largest rise in the crime severity index (CSI) of all CMAs in Canada for 2019 with an increase of 16 per cent.

Only Kelowna CMA recorded a higher increase with 20 per cent. Ontario’s Belleville (up 13 per cent) and Vancouver (up 11 per cent) ranked behind Greater Victoria. Over half of Canada’s largest cities (CMAs) recorded declining CSIs.

CSI measures both the volume and severity of crimes reported to the police, while the crime rate measures the volume of crime reported to the police per 100,000 population.

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Looking at both figures, Victoria’s overall CSI was 74.3 per cent in 2019, an increase of 16 per cent, with a recorded crime rate of 6,601 incidents, an increase of 14 per cent. In other words, both the number of crimes and their respective severity have gone up. Victoria’s overall CSI, however, remains below the national average of 79.5 per cent.

While Victoria’s overall CSI dropped 20 per cent cumulatively between the period of 2009 and 2019, it has been trending upwards in recent years. The most notable increases have occurred in the sub-index capturing non-violent crimes, such as property and drug crimes.

Victoria CMA leads that category in Canada country with a 20 per cent increase in such crimes, ahead of Kelowna (up 13 per cent), Thunder Bay (up 12 per cent), Winnipeg (up 12 per cent) and Vancouver (up 10 per cent). Looking at specific non-violent crimes driving the increase in Victoria, they include break and enters, thefts (not including shoplifting) and fraud.

Victoria CMA has also seen a spike in opioid (other than heroin) related crimes, with reports of trafficking going from zero in 2016, to 27 in 2019. Reported cases of opioid (other than heroin) possessions also rose in Victoria CMA, going from zero reported cases in 2016, t0 17 in 2019.

The new crime figures also bear some good news for Victoria. While local violent crimes as measured by the CSI rose six per cent in 2018 to 2019, this increase was below the national average of seven per cent. Victoria also remains well below the national average of 89.7 per cent when it comes to violent crimes measured by the CSI with 65.2 per cent.

What kinds of crimes accounted for the increase in the national CSI? They include what Statistics Canada calls a “significant increase” in police-reported child pornography (up 46 per cent), a 21 per cent increase in violent firearm-related offences, a category on the rise for the fifth straight year, higher sexual assault cases (up seven per cent in 2019) and more offences related to harassing and threatening behaviours, with all sub-categories such as criminal harassment up “sharply.”

Cases of fraud, shoplifting, and police-reported impaired driving also rose. In fact, police across the country recorded the largest increase in police-reported impaired driving in over three decades while drug-impaired driving rose for the sixth year in a row.

The homicide rate rose two per cent, led by the Prairie provinces, and only Quebec recorded a drop in the CSI.

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