The latest crime stats show police-reported crime rose in both Langley City and the Township last year.
Both communities’ mayors and the RCMP say while the numbers are cause for concern, residents needn’t worry about their personal safety.
The new Crime Severity Index (CSI) figures, which measures the volume and severity of police-reported crime, were released on Wednesday by Statistics Canada.
“It’s disappointing to see the numbers go up,” Langley City mayor Ted Schaffer said. “Maybe it’s a sign of the economic times.”
Schaffer takes some comfort from Statistic Canada’s view that the overall Canadian crime trend is still downward.
The agency said even though the CSI was up in 2015, it was still 31 per cent lower than it was a decade earlier.
“It is encouraging,” Schaffer said.
Schaffer added the City, with its “tight urban core centre,” is more likely to see fluctuations in police-reported crime, as in the case of the recent finding by the RCMP that the City theft-from-autos rate is rising this year because a new crew of criminals has moved in.
Schaffer added the City has beefed up its enforcement and has a better-than-average ratio of officers to residents.
“We’re continuously working with the RCMP, with our bylaw officers … to make this a family-friendly city where you can take your kids and grandkids to the park,” Schaffer said.
“That’s our goal.”
Langley a safe place to be
Township mayor Jack Froese said it was “good to see” that the overall trend was still downward, adding the Township, with CSI numbers at or below the provincial average, compares well to neighbouring communities in the Lower Mainland.
“We want to bring those stats down,” Froese said.
The mayor praised the police for their efforts to reduce the crime rate, saying the RCMP is doing a “great job.”
“We’re continuing to work to reduce crime in Langley,” Froese said.
“It is a safe place to be and we want to keep it a safe place to be,” Froese added.
The officer in charge of the Langley RCMP detachment suspects the rise has a lot to do with the amount of “preventable property crime” being reported in the Langleys.
Supt. Murray Power said property theft, including mail theft, was up substantially last year in both Langleys, but that was not the case with more serious categories of crime.
“The litmus test is, can you walk the streets safely, and (in the Langleys) you can, indeed” Power said.
Power warned the Langley CSI numbers will likely be up “significantly” again next year, and again due to property theft.
Langley numbers part of nation-wide trend
Statistics Canada said the higher Crime Severity Index (CSI) figures were part of a nation-wide trend that saw the number of crimes reported to police rise for first time in 12 years.
The City rating rose 7.5 per cent last year, while the Township index went up by half a percentage point.
In 2015, the overall Langley City crime severity index rose to 161.04, up from 147.46 in 2014.
The overall Township index increased to 94.78, up from 93.77 the year before.
Both communities were well above the national average (69.71), but the Township matched the provincial average (94.73).
The Township violent crime rating was 70.15, lower than the B.C. (82.99) and national (74.48) rates, while the city violent crime index was higher at 133.54.
The index is calculated by giving each type of crime a weight based on the average sentence handed down by criminal courts for the offence.
Statistics Canada said the rise was the result of more incidents of fraud, breaking and entering, robbery, and homicide.
“A notable increase in crime reported in Alberta and smaller increases in British Columbia, Ontario and Saskatchewan also contributed to the upward movement of the national CSI,” the agency statement said.
The traditional police-reported crime rate, which measures the volume of police-reported crime relative to the population size, also went up by three per cent.