Kelowna wins the bronze medal for national crime in 2013 and gold for B.C., says Statistics Canada.
The agency’s annual report on Canada’s crime rate says Regina and Saskatoon bumped Kelowna from its dubious position as the crime capital of the country in 2012. The stats suggest the number of police-reported crimes per 100,000 population in Kelowna dropped 13 per cent from 8,870 in 2012 to 7,680 last year.
The severity of local crimes also diminished. The index that tracks the most serious offences decreased by 12 per cent.
RCMP Supt. Nick Romanchuk vowed to lower the crime rate when he took over as the Central Okanagan’s top cop a year ago. He sent out a press release Wednesday saying his initiatives are bearing fruit.
“With research-based, intelligence . . . and an accountability model all in place, the hard work our officers are doing every day is starting to pay off,” he said.
“A 12 per-cent reduction in (the) crime severity index and 13 per cent reduction in overall crime . . . is proof positive.”
The latest figures on individual crimes were unavailable Wednesday.
Property crime was the most common offence in 2012, rising 13.5 per cent from 2011. Fraud offences increased by 19 per cent, theft of and from motor vehicles rose by 2.6 and 37.6 per cent respectively, and theft of bicycles increased 73 per cent.
StatsCan follows the crime rates of 32 municipalities across the country. Kelowna ranked the highest in B.C. over Vancouver, Abbotsford-Mission and Victoria.
Even so, the city’s crime severity index, which measures the volume and severity of crime based on average prison sentences, is now below the national average.
Experts have said Kelowna’s high crime rate is boosted by some criminals among the influx of 1.5 million visitors annually and the preference of several criminal gangs to locate here.
The national crime rate has been on a downward slide since the early 1990s, reaching its lowest level last year since 1969. Canadian police services reported more than 1.8 million Criminal Code offences were committed last year, down about 132,000 from the year before.
Most provinces and territories recorded a decrease in the severity of crimes committed except in the Yukon, Newfoundland and Labrador. Prince Edward Island, new Brunswick, Quebec and Manitoba reported the largest declines.
B.C. ranked third in the country after Saskatchewan and Manitoba.