Statistics Canada released its police reported crime numbers on Monday and the latest report shows violent crime in Alberta dropped last year when compared to the year before.

In 2016, Alberta’s crime severity index decreased by one percent over the year before while the national average rose by one percent.

Calgary’s crime index went down by six percent in 2016 after a 30 percent spike in 2015, which was the highest in any metro area and was fueled primarily by auto theft and drug-related crimes.

“It’s encouraging, certainly in a bigger light to see how hard the organization has worked to deal with those crime trends. One of the goals coming into this role was to actually have a crime reduction strategy. We saw the 2015 numbers that were very difficult, Calgary, one of its rare times in history was leading the nation in many crime trends, to see them turning back, without adding resources to the organization, without adding extra investments in the organization, shows what innovation does, shows what the restructuring was able to do and shows how hard our women and men are working around bringing those crime trends down,” said Calgary police chief Roger Chaffin.

Stats Canada attributes the six percent decline to fewer break and enters and robberies in the city.

Doug King is a Professor in the Department of Justice Studies at Mount Royal University and says Calgary and Alberta remain relatively crime free.

“It's easy to talk about where crime is up, motor vehicle theft, fentanyl, and that's important to talk about, but we should be cautious about sending the message to the general public that we're an unsafe community, we're not, we never have been,” he said.

King says tough economic times can’t be blamed for increases seen over the last few years.

“Lots of people sometimes say well, crime is somehow related to the economy, when the economy goes down people turn to crime. Well, there’s evidence that that’s not true. It may be true in one or two people’s instances but law-abiding citizens, who don’t break the law when they have a job, are law-abiding citizens when they’ve lost a job or going through economic times, that’s not what drives criminality. Criminality’s not driven by law-abiding citizens losing their jobs and so I think, it’s a question I’m always asked, is it related to a downturn in the economy? Well, if that’s the case, then we would have seen it in the last year, we didn’t see it so I think that’s the beginning point.”

Overall, crime rates were about the same last year as the year before but they were about 30 percent lower than a decade ago.

“Crime in Canada, crime in Alberta and crime in Calgary has, since the mid-90s, been on a downward trend,” said King. “One of the things that struck me about the report, the 2016 report, is that it compares provincial results in 12 major crime categories, and in ten of those major crime categories, the Alberta results, crime rates, are down, they’re less than they were last year and they’re less than the Canadian average.”

Possession and trafficking in cocaine and cannabis continue to decline and ecstasy use and trafficking has declined by 40 percent since last year.

However, other drug crimes have climbed nationally since 2015;

  • Possession of heroin is up 32 percent
  • Possession of methamphetamine is up 22 percent
  • Possession of other drugs including, opioids like fentanyl, is up seven percent.

The rate of sex crimes against children is also on the rise universally and last year saw a 30 percent jump Canada-wide.

Crimes related to child pornography went up 41 percent across the country and experts say these crimes continue to be under reported but the statistical increases may be tied to legislative changes and better enforcement.

“I think what we’ve seen in the last year or so is just a little bit better enforcement, law enforcement,” said King.

Impaired driving continued to decrease for the fifth consecutive year and was down three percent nationally.

To see the complete Police-reported crime statistics in Canada, 2016 report, click HERE.