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Edmonton’s overall crime rate down in 2023, violent offences up: police

Edmonton’s overall crime rate saw a reduction of 7.2 per cent in 2023, according to the latest data from the Edmonton Police Service (EPS), but violent crime continues to be an issue.

EPS released its 2023 crime statistics on Thursday, which show an increase in violent crimes of approximately 7.3 per cent.

Police data showed officers responded to approximately 89,000 criminial incidents in 2023, about 7,000 fewer than 2022. However, more than 16,000 of those incidents were violent, an increase of 6.6 per cent from the previous year. Police said the violent offences included homicides, assaults and robberies.

Police Chief Dale McFee said violent crimes would be the focus for EPS in 2024.

‘Some good progress has been made,” McFee said. “In 2023, we starting seeing returns on our work, reallocating resources, focusing on the areas of significant violence and social disorder like downtown, Chinatown, and throughout our LRT system.”

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McFee said EPS is working hard to address complex crimes and social disorder issues. He attributed the changes to collaborative approaches including the Safer Public Spaces initiative, the city-wide expansion of the Human-centred Liaison and Partnership Program (HELP) and the Police and Crisis Response Team (PACT) programs, as well as the new provincial navigation and support centre which opened in early 2024.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton’s new homeless navigation centre deemed success'

Edmonton’s new homeless navigation centre deemed success

Police said in the first three months of operation, the provincial navigation centre saw “significant success” with 1200 people coming through the doors and over 4000 referral and connections being made.

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“Targeted approaches like we saw in our transit system are producing tangible results in some areas,”  McFee said. “There’s still much work to accomplish when it comes to the amount of violence prevalent on our streets.”

McFee attributed the reduction in the overall crime rate to fewer property crimes and overall less social disorder, but he added the severity of violent crime is a concern with more crimes involving weapons.

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“Violent crimes continue to increase and in particular the level of violence within a call,” McFee said. “2024 will be about our emerging crime management plan, enhancing resources, including with our guns and gangs unit.”

EPS statistics show the total number of city-wide violent criminal incidents increased by 6.6 per cent (+995 incidents) in 2023. The types of violent criminal incidence with the largest increases included assaults and assaults with a weapon, causing bodily harm, up 6 per cent.

Criminal incidents involving weapons increased by 9% last year. incidents involving guns increased by 16% (+65 incidents), knife incidents increased by 1 per cent (+9), while caustic, or bear spray incidents increased by 14% (+121) city-wide.

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“The severity of crime has become much more serious in Edmonton,” said Supt. Derek McIntyre, with the EPS Intelligence and Reporting Division.

“We’ve had a staggered increase in the presence or use of caustic (bear) spray,” McIntyre said.

EPS data shows a positive trend in crime severity at LRT stations and transit centre, which it said decreased by 11.3 per cent between 2022 and 2023. Calls for service to LRT stations and transit centres increased by 18.8 per cent.

“The one area where we focused in 2023 and we’re seeing amazing dividends is in our transit system,” McIntyre added. “We have seen both violent criminal incidents, the presence and use of weapons and crime severity go down is in relation to transit.”

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Police also address crime statistics in Edmonton’s downtown which showed the proportion of EPS member-generated to non-member-generated dispatched calls for service increased in 2024 to 21 per cent. EPS said the member-generated calls for services “were an indication of the increased amount of proactive and crime prevention work EPS and its partners are undertaking.”

“The statistics show that when police are in the right place at the right time, they do make a difference,” McFee said, adding that EPS will continue to target repeat offenders in 2024.”They are violent people who belong in jail and should not be on our streets and we should not be afraid to say that.”

Click to play video: 'How safe to Edmontonians feel downtown and on transit?'

How safe to Edmontonians feel downtown and on transit?

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