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Westlock's crime numbers remain level for second quarter of 2021

Total criminal code cases for four-month stretch cut in half versus 2019
WES - Pages from WestlockRCMPMunicipalQuarterlyReport_41995a2b1b
Crimes stats in Westlock have continued to decline during the second quarter of 2021.

WESTLOCK – Criminal Code cases continue to fall in Westlock, with July to September 2021 numbers down 12 per cent compared to the past year and more than half the total posted in 2019.

Presented as information during town council’s Nov. 22 meeting, the second quarter 2021 numbers confirm the continuing downward crime trend that’s coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic. For the three-month stretch, total Criminal Code cases sit at 181, down from 206 for the same period in 2020 and less than half the 2019 total of 376, while in 2018 there were 275.

“We’re still waiting to see how much of this is related to the pandemic. But that said there’s also been some good programs that have rolled out. The crime reduction teams and ALERT teams are doing some good work,” said Westlock Staff Sgt. Al Baird in a follow-up interview Nov. 25. “Having those guys around going after the major players I think is also a factor in the numbers going down.”

Person crimes for the quarter sit at 31, down 13 over 2020, while property crimes are up one, from 116 to 117 and other Criminal Code cases sit at 23, down 13 versus the previous year. For the same quarter in 2018 and 2019, person crimes were 48 and 49 respectively, while property crimes for the same period were much higher at 243 and 155. Other Criminal Code in 2019 and 2018 were also much higher than this year, coming in at 85 and 71 respectively.

Traffic offences, which include criminal code, provincial code and other, are essentially the same as the previous year, 61 in 2021 versus 62 in 2020, while the same goes for drug charges and other federal acts, (static at four apiece). Other provincial act cases are down dramatically, dropping from 103 in 2020 to 68 in 2021, while municipal bylaw charges have doubled from eight in 2020 to 17 in 2021. Motor vehicle collisions are also up slightly for quarter and sit at 30, seven more than the previous year.

Numbers may change if more prosecutors aren’t hired

And while the continued downward crime trend is encouraging, Baird noted a recent Global News story that states 1,200 court cases involving serious crimes are at risk of falling through the cracks because there aren’t enough Crown prosecutors.

“That has a big impact. If those cases fall through that means a lot of repeat offenders are going to end up back on the streets,” said Baird.

In the piece Alberta Crown Attorneys’ Association president Dallas Sopko says the province is 47 prosecutors short, a number he says is changing rapidly “because people are leaving so quickly.” Alberta Justice states in the same story that as of Sept. 30, there were 39 vacancies out of 377 trial Crown prosecutor positions. The Alberta government made a $10-million commitment in February 2020 to hire 50 new prosecutors and support staff and so far, 38 of the first 40 prosecutors have been hired and plans to hire 10 more in 2022-2023 have been accelerated to this fiscal year.

“This is a big sounding bell for all communities that this issue needs to be fixed. We do what we can, but what happens there is beyond our control and influence … that’s all high-level stuff,” Baird continued.

“Crime doesn’t stop. We just keep feeding the machine, but the machine is full.”

George Blais,

George Blais

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