Chatham-Kent Police Service Headquarters. (Photo courtesy of the Chatham-Kent police)

CK crime ranks low compared to other areas

Violent crime was up in Chatham-Kent last year, but the municipality saw a reduction in non-violent crime.

The local Crime Severity Index in 2018 showed that violent crime was up by 6.6 per cent and non-violent crime was down by 5.6 per cent. Violent crime was up because of one murder and oneĀ  attempted murder. Police Chief Gary Conn said Chatham-Kent still has one of the lowest crime rates in Canada, even though violent crime has gradually risen since 2014. The chief said the violent crime rate was almost half the Canadian and provincial averages.

Conn said property crimes such as break-ins and thefts are still high but the downward trend is going in the right direction.

“In respect to residential, we saw a 10 per cent reduction and in respect to businesses in our municipality we saw a 27 per cent reduction in property crime,” said Conn.

Conn said career criminals are responsible for most of the local non-violent crimes such as break and enters and thefts and it’s frustrating when they get released because they use up a lot of police resources.

“A lot of these people are suffering from mental health and addictions. We see a direct correlation in regards to drugs and property crimes,” he added.

Conn said non-violent crime was down because officers are enforcing bail conditions more strictly and keeping a closer watch on career criminals but added more needs to be done to prevent what some are calling “a catch and release” program.

“There is clearly a lot of work that needs to be done in regards to rehabilitation and we also know that just incarcerating a person is not going to work,” the Chief said.

Chief Conn said more must be done to address mental health, addictions, homelessness, and poverty because social services and police are doing more with less. The chief added that those calls have tripled since 2006 to over 1,000 service calls last year. In general, Chatham-Kent police have been getting more than 200 calls for service every 24 hours.

Conn said clearance rates are also very high, meaning that cases are solved at an exceptionally high rate.

The 2018 crime severity report was delivered at the police services board meeting on Tuesday.

Board members heard that one convict currently behind bars was responsible for 82 crimes in the area.