Local lawlessness on the rise...sort of

Andrew Bennett
By Andrew Bennett
May 9th, 2012

Crime in Rossland was up in 2011 from 2010 according to statistics recently released by the RCMP, but Sgt. Rob Hawton of the Trail RCMP pointed out the numbers are fairly small, so real trends are difficult to identify.

“Not a whole lot stood out,” Hawton said. “We don’t want to say it’s insignificant, but the numbers are low.”

For example, there was only one vehicle stolen in 2011, while two were stolen in 2010.

“We cut that in half,” Hawton laughed. “It looks pretty impressive when you look at percentages!  When you’re dealing with small numbers, it doesn’t take a lot to change percentage-wise.”

Nevertheless, some numbers stand out. There were four separate incidents of sexual assault last year, where there had been none in 2010. Hawton noted that these may have been historical assaults that have only recently been reported.

There were 10 other types of assault in 2011, up from eight in 2010, and break-and-enters doubled from five offences in 2010 to 10 offences in 2011.

Drug offences rose from four in 2010 to eight in 2011—these offences run the gamut from possession, intent to distribute, to production.

Hawton said, “This reflects more of an effort by RCMP to apprehend drug offenders,” but not a change in policy. “We’re always doing it, and we may show more success one year. We’re looking at low numbers here, that has to be kept in perspective.”

Impaired driving rose substantially from two drivers charged in 2010 to seven charged in 2011. Hawton said the lower blood-alcohol restrictions “do make a difference” in these cases.

Five of the seven drivers last year were also charged under the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) which was designed to “streamline the process,” Hawton said, allowing police to place immediate roadside prohibitions on a driver without requiring a breathalyzer back at the station. This section of the MVA was instituted in Sept. 2010, but was declared unconstitutional in Nov. 2011.

Eighteen vehicle accidents in Rossland caused property damage in 2011, up from 14 in 2010.

Rossland’s largest category of crime—”theft, mischief, and possession of stolen property”—went down to 43 offences in 2011 from 50 reported in 2010.

The category “primarily deals with vandalism,” Hawton said. “Under the Criminal Code, we don’t have an actual vandalism section, but we do have mischief, damage to property, interference to the lawful use of property.” The latter covers a lot of ground, from purposefully disturbing your neighbours, to people who refuse to leave your house.

There were no murders or fatal accidents in either year.

Hawton said details of all these cases are unavailable to the public due to privacy concerns, and he said there is no easy way to know which of these offences led to charges, arrests, or a court process. Only cases processed through the courts become public information.

Nevertheless, Coun. Jody Blomme was curious about these incidents, asking, “Is there a way of finding out if anyone was charged? Were the bad guys caught? Are the perpetrators still out there? How do we find out that info? Is there anything we can do with the info? If we fully understand the situation, perhaps we can raise awareness.”

The mayor and council agreed to arrange an in camera meeting with Sgt. Hawton to discuss these issues.

Categories: CrimeGeneralPolitics

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