Barrie second safest metropolitan area in country in 2015 according to Stats Canada
A suspect is loaded into a Barrie police cruiser in this file photo. Barrie was part of the second safest metropolitan area in the country last year, according to the crime severity index released by Statistics Canada. EXAMINER FILE
Barrie was part of the second safest metropolitan area in the country last year, according to the crime severity index released by Statistics Canada.
“I think crime severity is a good way of looking at crime, because if you look at the crime rate, that's a measure, really, of the volume of crime, whereas crime severity tells you if it's getting more serious or less serious,” said Warren Silver, analyst with the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, at Statistics Canada.
Quebec City was the safest census metropolitan area (CMA) in Canada last year; Barrie was followed by Toronto, Ottawa-Gatineau (Ontario portion) and Guelph.
Barrie was the nation's safest CMA in 2014, 2013 and 2012 – after being third in both 2011 and 2010.
“The crime severity in Barrie, total crime severity, dropped by 1% (from 2014 to 2015) and the non-violent crime severity dropped by 2%,” Silver said, “so that means of the non-violent crimes they dropped more, as opposed to the violent crime severity.
“The violent crime severity did increase, by 3%, but because there are many fewer of those incidents, the overall severity in Barrie dropped.”
The Barrie CMA comprises all of the City of Barrie, patrolled by Barrie city police, and all of the Town of Innisfil, which is patrolled by South Simcoe police, except for Highway 89, between Highway 400 and Cookstown, which the OPP looks after - although South Simcoe police patrol the residential areas along this stretch of road.
Barrie Police Chief Kimberley Greenwood said the city's consistently good safety rating can be attributed to policing fundamentals.
“This statistic is attributed to the strong ties within the community, our vigilant residents, partnerships and the continuous and dedicated work of our members and those of our surrounding police partners,” she said.
Silver said two areas contributed to the city's most-recent low crime severity index.
“The decrease of the crime severity index in Barrie was due mostly to a decrease in theft under $5,000 and sexual assault level one,” he said.
Fewer thefts under $5,000 would drive down the non-violent crime severity index, Silver said, while less sexual assault level one charges would drop the violent crime severity numbers.
Sexual assault level one includes everything from unwanted touching or unwanted physical contact to more serious sexual assaults, but doesn't include weapons, aggravated assault or bodily harm, Silver said.
“However, the decrease was somewhat mitigated by the increase in homicides, breaking and entering and other violent Criminal Code violations,” he said.
Silver said there were three homicides in the Barrie CMA last year, compared to one in 2014.
The crime severity index measures police-reported crimes that reflect the relative seriousness of individual offences, and tracks changes in the severity of crimes.
Each crime is assigned a weight, depending upon its seriousness. A gaming and betting crime, for example, has an index of six, while it's more than 7,000 for murder.
Other crimes tracked include robbery, sexual assault, harassment, break-ins, weapons, etc.
A CMA must have a total population of at least 100,000 people, of which 50,000 or more must live in the urban core. Included, adjacent municipalities must have a high degree of integration with the central urban area. A CMA usually has more than one police force.
For more information on the crime severity index, visit www.statcan.gc.ca.