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Edmonton Faces Alarming Rise in Crime

By Fatih Sahin Dec4,2023

Edmonton, once known for its vibrant culture and thriving community, is now grappling with a dark shadow of escalating crime rates that threaten to propel the city to the top of the Crime Severity Index (CSI) in Canada. Edmontonians are growing increasingly concerned about the apparent lack of priority given to crime prevention.

The most recent data from the Crime Severity Index for the year 2022 reveals a startling reality. Edmonton, with a population of 1,151,635, has a CSI of 110.7, showcasing a 4.6% increase from the previous year. This places the city among the top contenders for the ignominious title of the country’s crime capital if current trends persist.

The CSI, which monitors the overall severity of police-reported crime, takes into account both the prevalence and seriousness of crimes committed. The impact of crime on individual community members, their families, and the community as a whole is thus measured, providing a comprehensive understanding of the challenges faced.

While other major Canadian cities like Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver are also contending with crime, Edmonton’s sharp increase in the CSI is particularly alarming. The city’s leadership is now under scrutiny for seemingly not prioritizing the issue as a top concern.

The Crime Severity Index is not the only cause for concern. Reports indicate that instances of violence, including shootings, attacks, and deadly altercations, have become disturbingly commonplace. It has become almost routine for residents to hear about someone being killed, attacked, or involved in violent altercations. Lockdowns at malls, once rare occurrences, are now met with a sense of resignation rather than shock.

Indeed, the release of the 2023 crime data will be crucial in understanding the trajectory of crime rates in Edmonton and other cities.

CITY / TOWNPOLICEPOP.OverallViolent crimeNon-violent crime
Winnipeg, MB Municipal758,515144.4+20.5%204.5
Edmonton, AB Municipal1,151,635110.65+4.6%126.7
Vancouver, BC Municipal2,426,16092.0-0.5%106.0
Surrey, BC RCMP568,32298.8+8.7%88.6
Montreal, QCMunicipal3,675,21978.3+0.2%109.1
Calgary, ABMunicipal1,305,55077.6+4.6%79.7
Waterloo Region, ONMunicipal522,88879.1+3.2%98.4
Toronto, ONMunicipal5,647,65661.1+8.6%91.7
Ottawa, ONMunicipal1,017,44954.1+10.5%65.3
Hamilton, ONMunicipal729,56065.0-4.6%84.3
Quebec, QCMunicipal733,15653.6+9.5%77.6
York Region, ONMunicipal1,239,50047.6+21.3%64.1
The table provides a snapshot of the Crime Severity Index in Canada for cities with populations exceeding 500,000

From 2018 to 2022, Edmonton witnessed a consistent climb in its CSI, reaching 110.65 in the most recent year. This represents a 4.59% increase from the previous year, highlighting a concerning trend.

  • Overall Crime Severity: Edmonton’s overall crime severity index peaked at 130.18 in 2018, showcasing a 4.64% increase from the previous year. While there was a marginal decline in 2019, subsequent years saw fluctuations, ultimately reaching 110.65 in 2022.
  • Violent Crime Severity: The city experienced minor fluctuations in the violent crime severity index, with a slight decrease of 1.78% in 2021. However, the overall trend remained relatively stable, ending at 126.68 in 2022.
  • Non-Violent Crime Severity: Non-violent crimes showed more significant fluctuations, with a notable decrease of 13.73% in 2020. However, the subsequent years witnessed an increase, culminating in a 6.86% rise in 2022.

Clearance Rates: Challenges in Law Enforcement Effectiveness

The weighted clearance rates offer insights into law enforcement’s effectiveness in resolving reported crimes. Edmonton shows a decline in clearance rates over the years.

  • Overall Weighted Clearance Rate: Starting at 40.00 in 2018, the overall clearance rate experienced a downward trend, reaching 35.41 in 2022—a 4.61% decrease. This suggests potential challenges in solving reported crimes.
  • Violent Weighted Clearance Rate: While there was a notable increase of 6.15% in 2020, subsequent years saw a decline, ending at 49.12 in 2022—a 0.78% decrease.
  • Non-Violent Weighted Clearance Rate: Non-violent crimes followed a similar pattern, experiencing a 7.5% decrease from 31.15 in 2021 to 28.81 in 2022.
Crime severity index105.79110.65
Percent change in crime severity index-8.944.59
Violent crime severity index126.45126.68
Percent change in violent crime severity index-1.780.18
Non-violent crime severity index98.43105.18
Percent change in non-violent crime severity index-11.636.86
Weighted clearance rate37.1235.41
Percent change in weighted clearance rate-0.59-4.61
Violent weighted clearance rate48.7449.12
Percent change in violent weighted clearance rate-7.140.78
Non-violent weighted clearance rate31.1528.81
Percent change in non-violent weighted clearance rate0.32-7.51
Crime severity index and weighted clearance rates, police services in Edmonton

Despite the commendable efforts of the EPS, recent data reveals a stark reality. With over 1,780 police officers, the EPS provides around-the-clock safety and security to Edmonton residents. However, in a city with a population exceeding one and a half million, these numbers appear incongruent with the scale and complexity of the challenges faced.

The EPS is the primary guardian of Edmonton’s streets, responsible for ensuring the well-being of its diverse community. The city’s budgetary commitment to the police department reflects the significance of this responsibility. From $384 million as of December 2021, the budget has seen a substantial boost to a projected $418.5 million for the fiscal year 2023.

On the surface, this increase of $34.5 million, translating to almost 9 percent, demonstrates a commitment to addressing the growing demands on law enforcement. However, a closer look reveals that this augmentation may not be sufficient to meet the evolving challenges of policing in a city of Edmonton’s size.

Moving forward, city officials, law enforcement, and the community at large must collaboratively address the root causes of crime and explore innovative approaches to enhance public safety. The upcoming years will be pivotal in determining whether Edmonton can reverse these trends and create a safer environment for its residents. The ongoing commitment to data-driven decision-making and community engagement will play a crucial role in shaping the city’s response to these complex challenges. As the city appears to be hurtling toward the undesirable title of Canada’s crime capital, the urgency for a comprehensive and effective response has never been more apparent.

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