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Thompson remains violent crime capital of Canada

City says high ranking in 2018 Crime Severity Index is due to visitors, transient population and the legacy of colonialism
Thompson's rank on Crime Severity Index (2018)
A snapshot from the scene of Thompson’s second homicide of 2018, which took place outside an abandoned building on Cree Road Aug. 30. Thompson Citizen file photo.

Statistics Canada slapped Thompson with a dismal distinction once again July 22, when it released the annual Juristat Crime Severity Index (CSI) for 2018.

Just like the last two CSI rankings, Thompson rated second overall (among communities in Canada with populations above 10,000) for the severity of crime reported to police with an index score of 365.90, which represents an 32-point jump from 2017.

For the second year in a row, Thompson had the highest violent crime severity with a score of 569.85, a staggering 60-point increase from last year.

The city was third in non-violent crime severity with a score of 291.66.

City officials responded to these latest statistics in a July 23 press release.

Thompson RCMP detachment officer-in-charge Insp. Brian Edmonds said visitors are committing the vast majority of these violations and that Thompson’s central location in Northern Manitoba attracts organized crime.

Edmonds also said Thompson’s high CSI ranking is partially due to the RCMP’s proactive investigations that regularly nab drug dealers and impaired drivers.

Coun. Jeff Fountain, chair of the public safety committee, said the ongoing crime problem has deeper roots, since Thompson is on the front lines of contending with the violence, addiction and mental health issues that have resulted from the residential school system and forced relocation of many northern communities.

“As the Hub of the North, the City of Thompson bears the brunt of these social challenges,” said Fountain. “Mayor and council and its partners will continue to seek out solutions and lobby for support at all levels of government.”

Manitoba currently has the highest homicide rate and CSI ranking out of any province in the country, with 55 homicides in 2018 and an overall index score of 125.76, respectively.

Among Canadian cities with populations of over 100,000 people, Winnipeg has the third highest CSI ranking at 119.43, just behind Regina, Saskatchewan (126.63) and Lethbridge, Alberta (136.96).

For the country as a whole, Canada’s CSI score increased from 73.61 in 2017 to 75.01 in 2018, although that’s still lower than the police-reported crime rate from a decade ago.

As for Statistics Canada’s 2018 CSI rankings overall, the top five spots went to North Battleford, Saskatchewan (384.57), Thompson (365.90), Quesnel, British Columbia (291.83), Wetaskiwin, Alberta (270.04) and Portage La Prairie (262.84).