When it comes to the latest crime statistics for the City of Thompson the news again this week is bad, bad and bad – continuing a long pattern of more of the same.
Statistics Canada released its annual Juristat Crime Severity Index values for 238 police services policing communities over 10,000 population for 2010 on July 19 and Thompson topped the Violent Crime Severity Index and finished second in both the Overall Crime Severity Index column and Non-Violent Crime Severity Index column.
What the numbers represent are a continuation of Thompson's dismal yearly crime numbers – both violent and non-violent – although the violent crime numbers involving personal injury and death get the most attention.
The same annual survey of police-reported crime, however, shows a very different picture nationally and in many other communities once you get outside of Thompson and some other perennial violent hotspots. The national crime rate is continuing its 20-year decline and has now dropped to levels not seen since 1973, the survey indexes show.
In 2008, the City of Thompson, with an estimated population now of 14,489, ranked third in the overall Crime Severity Index and first in terms of violence. In 2009, we ranked third overall again but improved marginally to second in terms of violent crime.
Topping the overall Crime Severity Index for the second year in a row was North Battleford, Sask., population 13,856, which was second to Thompson on the Violent Crime Severity Index and finished ranked first on the Non-Violent Crime Severity Index column.
Number three on the Violent Crime Severity Index was Prince Albert, Sask. population 36,638, followed in fourth ranking spot by infamous Williams Lake, B.C., population 11,129, which spawned Mark Leiren-Young's 2009 book, Never Shoot a Stampede Queen: A Rookie Reporter in the Cariboo, finished third for violent crime. Williams Lake had finished third in 2009.
In a list no one wants to top, Thompson, North Battleford and Williams Lake have been shuffling spots for years marginally for the annual distinction of being the most violent place in Canada to live.
A comprehensive review of police-reported crime statistics, the Juristat report covers crimes reported to police, rather than overall crime, which Statistics Canada reports in its General Society Survey of Crime Victimization undertaken every five years.
MoneySense magazine in its annual Best Places to Live 2011 survey released March 28 also concluded Thompson had the worst crime problem of the 180 Canadian cities they ranked. To come up with the rankings, MoneySense gathers information on Census Metropolitan Areas (CMA) and Census Agglomeration areas that had a population of 10,000 or more - and for which the data they sought was available.
There have been two murders to date this year in Thompson – both in Eastwood and both beating deaths. Fletcher Mcdougall, 16, was jumped outside the Princeton Towers South apartment building on March 20, while Jason Nunn, 25, was beaten to death, with his body found in a parking lot behind the Juniper Centre around 6 a.m. Easter Sunday morning.
Three men – Pierre Bessette-Forcier, 22, Justin Joseph Parker, 23, and Joey Aiken Whiteway, 19 – have charged with second-degree murder in connection with Mcdougall's, killing.
Nunn's killing remains unsolved three months later.