Brockville saw declines in nearly all categories of crime in the first quarter of 2019, with bail violations being the only exception, according to city police’s latest crime statistics.
Deputy Police Chief Mark Noonan told the police services board on Tuesday it is hard to pinpoint any specific reason for the broad decline, noting some cases are still in process and are not captured by the Q1 report.
And when asked whether a drop in drug offences meant there were fewer drugs in town, the deputy chief said that is definitely not the case.
“It’s a small snapshot so we’ll see by the end of the year,” added Noonan.
Similarly, as police are part of a community-wide initiative aimed at combating a recent rise in youth crime, the deputy chief said the numbers are not an indication that this problem has abated.
The Brockville Police Service provides statistics for a specific series of crimes every three months.
For the first three months of the year, the numbers show, police dealt with almost the same number of calls as the same period in 2018. There were 3,368 calls for service for the first quarter of this year, compared to 3,372 for Q1 last year.
But the incidence of different crimes was mainly down, sometimes by large percentages given the relatively small numbers.
Most notably, the number of thefts was down by 46 per cent, from 102 in the first quarter of 2018 to 55 this year.
“There’s a lot less of what I call the car-shopping,” said Noonan, referring to criminals going from vehicle to vehicle looking for unlocked doors to steal items.
The deputy chief was not sure why that particular crime is down, and whether it is a cyclical occurrence. In some cases, a group of offenders responsible for a wave of thefts from vehicles is “dealt with” and the numbers drop for a while.
There are also many factors behind the drop in thefts overall, he added.
“Sometimes it’s just so hard to put your finger on it,” said Noonan.
Among the violent crimes, assaults were down from 67 to 57, while sexual offences dropped from 14 to 11. There were no robberies recorded in the first-quarter stats, compared to three in the first quarter of 2018.
Meanwhile, break-ins were down from 26 to 15, while mischief cases dropped from 47 to 25.
Drug offences were down from 34 to 21, the numbers show.
Noonan said the legalization of cannabis has had some effect on the drug numbers, as there is a learning curve in applying the new rules.
While most crimes were down, the quarterly statistics show increases in calls for service for such things as motor vehicle collisions (up from 186 to 194) and Mental Health Act cases (up from 80 to 89).
Other areas posting increases included noise complaints, prisoner escorts and bail violations.
The latter rose from 48 in the first quarter of 2018 to 71. Noonan said new case law has led to judges imposing more stringent conditions for accused people to be held.
That, said Noonan, means more people are now out on bail whom police expect will violate those conditions.
“It’s been a little bit more difficult to keep our repeat offenders in custody,” said the deputy chief.
“We tend to see more frequent flyers on the bail violations.”
Officials are working on creating more options for such individuals, for instance with help from the John Howard Society, added Noonan.
A recent high-profile violent crime, in which a man was injured in a stabbing in the east end, is not reflected in these statistics as it happened earlier this month.