Drug busts more than doubled and car crash deaths fell by half last year in Fort St. John, RCMP Inspector Pat Egan told City Council Monday.
Egan’s report showed changes in crime statistics from 2011 to 2012. Crimes against the person – including robberies, assault and sex offenses – were up four per cent altogether and crimes involving property were up nine per cent.
Fort St. John experienced 80 per cent more robberies than in 2011, but Egan said it was not exactly cause for concern. The percentage represents a difference of only eight robberies, with 10 in 2011 and 18 in 2012.
“In a town like Fort St. John, given the demographics and the size, I’m not alarmed at that. Those are relatively small numbers. One robbery is too many, but in terms of a big spike in the number of robberies, it’s not really a big number, it’s just a percentage versus the year before.”
Cocaine possession was down 62 per cent, but the rate of detection for trafficking was up 106 per cent. Egan said this was directly a result of increased emphasis on enforcement of trafficking laws.
Marijuana possession and trafficking rose 56 per cent and fell 13 per cent, respectively.
Car crash deaths fell 50 per cent, injury accidents rose by 17 per cent, and collisions with only damage remained steady, going from 385 to 384 between from 2011 to 2012.
“It should also be noted that the mayor and council listed traffic as a priority and it’s encouraging to see the fatalities are down 50 per cent,” Egan said. “We do have very busy roads however, and we need to be ever vigilant and ensure that we’re focused on traffic.”
Impaired driving busts fell 29 per cent.
“The new legislation finally got sorted out in June last year,” Egan said. “It’s important to note the new provisions under provincial legislation. The average case takes 25 minutes as opposed to criminal code investigation of 17 hours for the officer involved. So we expect to see those numbers steadily increase over the next year.”
Aggravated and armed assaults were up 18 per cent and sex offenses were down 15 per cent.
Egan said shoplifting continued to fall over the last three or four reports, given at six-month intervals. That crime fell 28 per cent.
“I applaud the stores that have implemented the loss prevention officer program. It really is making a difference,” Egan said.
Fort St. John has a special problem with false alarms. Egan said there were 973 in 2011 and 977 in 2012. That year, the City began enforcing a false alarm bylaw whereby the first false alarms garners business or residences a warning, the second costs $100, the third $200, and subsequent false alarms $300. The fines get applied to property taxes.