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‘The level of crime in Penticton is unacceptable,’ says Mayor

The city has been at the top of province’s worst crime cities for multiple years
Joy Lang holds a sign in 2017 to highlight what she and a number of others at the Penticton courthouse believe is insufficient punishment for prolific offenders. (Western News File)

The City of Penticton is once again calling for change as crime in the city continues to tax citizens and RCMP.

“The level of crime in Penticton is unacceptable,” Mayor John Vassilaki said in a statement following StatsCan’s release of 2021’s crime severity index.

“City council, law enforcement and community groups like Clean Streets Penticton all want to see change and are working hard to make it a reality.”

According to the statistics from StatsCan that were released on Aug. 2, the severity of crime in the city saw an increase from 2020, rising to 200.59 points from 194.20.

The crime severity index takes the data on the reported crimes in communities across Canada, attaches differing weights to each case depending on the specific crime and then puts them together to calculate the severity of crime for the area against a base average score of 100 set in 2006.

It should be noted, that 2020’s statistics were significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even then, the city had one of the most severe crime ratings in B.C.

Those numbers do show a promising trend from the peak severity of 232.8 in 2019. Over the last few years, Penticton has added multiple additional RCMP officers to the local detachment.

READ MORE:Penticton has worst crime rate in the Okanagan, says Stats Canada

While the severity of non-violent crime has seen its second year of decline, from 249.95 in 2019 to 207.65 in 2021, violent crime has worsened in the city.

Between 2019 and 2020 there was a 30 per cent drop in violent crime, but 2021 nearly caught up to 2019’s numbers, with a severity of 179.65 in 2021 compared to 182.75.

The Penticton RCMP detachment have had the highest caseload per officer in departments across the province, leading to many officers being overworked.

On Wednesday, Vassilaki issued a plea for help, calling out the Attorney General, BC Housing and Interior Health, to step up and provide more support.

“We can’t do it alone,” said Vassilaki. “The police are doing their job but prolific offenders and the ‘catch and release’ system in place are hampering the city’s efforts. Offenders need to know there are consequences and right now they don’t think there are any and that has to change.”

Criticisms against the court system for being too light on prolific offenders in B.C. and particularly in Penticton are not new, and have been expressed by members of council during their council meetings as well as by regular citizens including the new group that has formed called Clean Streets Penticton.

READ MORE: Small office supplies business tired of criminal behaviour

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Brennan Phillips

About the Author: Brennan Phillips

Brennan was raised in the Okanagan and is thankful every day that he gets to live and work in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.
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