Greater Victoria, with a population of 395,651 is one of the safest places in Canada compared to the rest of the country, according to new statistics. But they also show the region is struggling with a distinct set of issues, mainly an increase in fraud-related crime.
According to Statistics Canada, Victoria recorded a Crime Severity Index (CSI) of 63.6 in 2018, up five per cent. The CSI is a police-reported measure of crime that measures the volume and severity of police-reported crime in Canada, with an index value of 100. In 2018, the national CSI was 75 — up for the fourth straight year.
So with a rate of almost 64, the Greater Victoria is below the national average, and ranks as the safest Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) in British Columbia. By comparison, Kelowna records a CSI of 100.7, followed by Abbotsford-Mission (90.1) and Vancouver (84.3). Quebec City is Canada’s safest CMA with a CSI of 44.7, while Lethbridge ranks as the worst with a CSI of 137.
But the Victoria’s CSI also give reason for some concern compared to the recent past. It is higher than the CSI of several larger metropolitan areas — Toronto’s CSI is 53.6, for example — and rising.
Compared to the previous year, Victoria’s CSI rose five per cent, with most categories of crime up with the most significant increase in the category of fraud. It rose 31 per cent, one of the largest increases anywhere in the country. Other categories also recorded higher rates. Property crimes rose 11 per cent, violent crimes six per cent, and other criminal offences two per cent.
So what accounts for the increase? One possible reason might be the region’s demography.
Victoria is a relatively older community and fraudsters tend to target older individuals.
This said, drug offences dropped 25 per cent, and the region recorded two homicides in 2018.
By comparison, Abbotsford-Mission (population: 195,726) and Kelowna (population: 210,961) respectively recorded six and two homicides. Kelowna, meanwhile, recorded the highest rates of opioid offences anywhere in Canada with 101.
All this said, the larger picture shows crime at historically low rates. Despite the increase, the national CSI was 17 per cent lower in 2018 than a decade earlier.