City has repeat offenders in its sights
Mayor promises to be aggressive on crime reduction
By: Peter Boer
| Posted: Friday, Feb 15, 2013 05:15 pm
Repeat offenders in St. Albert could soon be the target of a new policing strategy to further reduce the number of Criminal Code offences in the city.
During his State of the City address, after noting that the annual number of Criminal Code offences in St. Albert has fallen sharply in the last two years, Mayor Nolan Crouse said council was going to take actions to reduce it further.
Specifically, Crouse said, the city is working on a crime reduction strategy that will target the “10 per cent of the creeps that do 90 per cent of the work.”
“We have a very safe community, but we are going to continue to be aggressive in community safety,” Crouse said.
The idea behind a crime reduction strategy, said Insp. Kevin Murray, is to keep so-called prolific or chronic offenders – individuals who are repeatedly arrested for crimes – on a short leash when it comes to probation or bail conditions. That could mean checking up on offenders required to observe house arrest or a curfew, or looking for evidence of breaching other conditions of their release.
“It’s holding them accountable for what the court has imposed. Otherwise what’s the point in the court giving them those conditions if there’s no accountability for them?” Murray said.
It’s a familiar concept to Murray, who worked in similar programs when he was deployed in B.C., before coming to St. Albert. In 2008 B.C. launched a pilot project targeting prolific offenders in a similar fashion, but also connecting these offenders with social services that could help them change their ways.
“We recognize we simply can’t be reactive to reduce crime,” Murray said. “It means we have to be proactive in enforcement.”
A report released on the program by the B.C. Ministry of Justice when the pilot project concluded in September, 2012 found those targeted re-offended 40 per cent less during the first year when compared to their behaviour before the pilot began, used social services more often, had fewer negative police contacts and spent less time in custody.
“In my experience, when a person is facing a number of those bail or process violations, they were getting more of a sentence for those violations than the substantive offence for which they were originally charged,” Murray said.
Crouse said he is committed to pushing ahead on crime reduction, even though the number of Criminal Code offences in St. Albert has dropped from a five-year high of 5,860 in 2009 to 3,759 in 2012. Driving that in part is last summer’s community satisfaction survey, in which only 69 per cent of residents agreed St. Albert was a safe place to live, down precipitously from 91 per cent in 2010.
“(Repeat offenders) are driving the Criminal Code element,” Crouse said.
Murray said he would provide more details on the strategy later this year when it is completed.