Crime rate decreased in last quarter of 2016 despite spike in homicides

By Rupert Nuttle

Despite last year’s rash of homicides, the number of criminal offences handled by Ottawa police was down in the last three months of 2016, compared with the same period in 2015.

According to a report presented at City Hall earlier this week, police handled an average of 5.9 Criminal Code violations per officer between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31. That marks a 3 percent decrease from the previous year.

“The result was driven by fewer Criminal Code of Canada offences … while staffing levels rose,” the report, prepared by Chief of Police Charles Bordeleau, concludes.

Most of the offences were property-related, yet the three-month period included an uncommon spike in homicides.

Of last year’s 24 murders, 11 were committed in the final quarter of the year. If, as Bordeleau’s report suggests, police workload was down overall, this was not the case in the major crimes unit.

“You’re shifting from one case to another, and back and forth constantly, because your caseload is heavy and you’re helping out on other cases,” Staff Sgt. Bruce Pirt, one of the unit’s leaders, told the CBC in late December.

The chief’s report also notes that emergency calls increased last year. Officers received a total of 3,500 emergency calls in 2016 – a four percent increase from 2015 – and spent an estimated 273,000 hours responding to calls, or a cumulative 11,375 days on the job.