Collingwood crime rates on steady decline 0
The streets of Collingwood are becoming safer, according to Statistics Canada crime severity index report.
Since 2009, Collingwood has hovered near the middle of the index that looks at communities with a population of 10,000 or more.
The numbers for 2011 were released on Tuesday, and show Collingwood moved down the list to rank 150 out of 239 communities.
The crime severity index values the crimes reported from police services, so less serious offences have less impact on the index.
The index also breaks the crimes down into non-violent and violent. Collingwood ranks 146 and 163 in those indices, respectively.
Detachment commander for Collingwood and Blue Mountains Ontario Provincial Police, Insp. John Trude, attributes the decline in crime to prevention programs.
“It's a whole lot easier and effective to stop the crime before it's committed,” said Trude.
Prevention starts in the schools.
“We put a lot of emphasis on education,” said Trude.
Trude says there is a dedicated officer in both high schools and to the intermediate grades in school presenting programs such as DARE, and raising awareness around bullying and internet safety.
“They're interacting with youth to show police as not just an enforcement – they're a flesh-and-blood resource,” said Trude.
In addition to education, Trude says a crime prevention officer works with the BIA, the town's parks, recreation and culture advisory board, and chamber of commerce to increase awareness about prevention techniques and provide advice in an effort to reduce property crime.
The non-violent crime rates saw a significant drop from 2010 to 2011, reducing Collingwood's rank to 146 from 105.
“It's always nice to know when the programs are working,” said Trude. “Non-violent crimes are more damage, mischief, and theft. They are a little easier to address.”
Property crime violations have seen a significant decrease, from 1,036 instances in 2009 to 741 instances in 2011, according to Statistics Canada police-reported crime statistics for Collingwood.
Theft from a vehicle nearly doubled from 2010 to 2011 – up from 13 to 20 instances.
The OPP currently has a “lock it or lose” it campaign to reduce theft from vehicles.
“People generally are not going to break into your car unless there is something they see,” said Trude.
Collingwood's mayor, Sandra Cooper, agrees.
“I think really good communication – for instance getting the message out there to keep your car locked – that message gets out there,” said Cooper, who is also a member of the town's police services board.
Violent crime has had a slight increase in Collingwood from 2009 to 2011, up to 248 instances from 208 – mostly due to an increase in sexual assault and other assault..
“Violent crime is not exceedingly prevalent,” said Trude. “When it's not high to start with, it's hard to bring down.”
Cooper says she is happy to see Collingwood is confirmed as a safe town in which to live.
“I'm very proud being a mayor of a safe community,” she said.
The municipality works with the OPP in what services the organization can provide the town.
“In certain cases we can ask for enhancements,” said Cooper.
Cooper says Collingwood puts an emphasis on water safety and an increased police presence in the downtown area, and throughout neighbourhoods.
The mayor says having police officers who have worked in different towns are also an asset.
“Some have worked in other municipalities with a crime unit, so they know what to look for,” said Cooper.
Cooper says festivals and community events, such as the Elvis Festival on the weekend, help keep crime rates low.
“People are visiting Collingwood to enjoy the weekend and all we have to offer,” she said.