The report released this week shows the crime severity index in Guelph rose 15 per cent in 2017 from the previous year.
The index considers the numbers of crimes, but weighs them differently based on their severity.
Guelph’s 15 per cent jump was tied for the second highest throughout Canada. The Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge area saw an increase of 14 per cent.
Chief Jeff DeRuyter said there are connections between the rise in crime and the current opioid crisis sweeping across the country.
“People that have substance abuse issues are involved in criminal activity and we see it in various property crimes, we see it in some of our robberies, the break and enters,” he explained.
But DeRuyter said this isn’t just a policing issue and there needs to be collaboration between all levels of government, police and various organizations.
“It’s trying to look at new initiatives that we can have. We sit on a lot of tables and committees with different groups, that we collectively respond,” he said.
“We cannot just police our way out of so many of these issues.”
The index across Canada increased by just two per cent while Ontario’s crime severity index was up by five per cent.
Guelph’s index was at 64 in 2017, which is similar to Waterloo Region and London, but well below Brantford’s index at 86.3, and many cities in the Prairies, including Saskatoon, Regina and Winnipeg.
Guelph finds itself in the middle when it comes to a ranking of the safest large metropolitan areas in Canada, sitting at 17 out of 34.
“Guelph is a relatively safe community,” DeRuyter said.
“There are some challenges that we have and we’ll continue to work with our partners and as a police , we’ll look at how we can respond,” he added.
Some of the violations contributing to the change in Guelph were break and enters, fraud and sexual assault.
Guelph saw 600 break and enters in 2017, up from 469 the previous year. Fraud violations rose to 462 in 2017 from 372 in 2016.
Sexual assault violations rose to 125 from 86, but DeRuyter said that could be from more victims willing to file a police report.
“Around the world with the #MeToo movement, we do see an increase in sexual assaults being reported and that showed across the country,” he said.
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