A majority of Calgary residents say they feel less safe in their city than three years ago, but experts say the city is no less safe than it was in 2019.
A ThinkHQ Public Affairs study found that 53 per cent of 1,172 Calgarians surveyed said they felt less safe in the city. About 15 percent of those surveyed said it was “much less safe”. Only four percent of participants said they felt safer while 42 percent said they felt about the same, the survey concluded.
The study also said that 48 per cent of Calgarians surveyed feel crime is high in the city today and 12 per cent said crime is “very high”. Only 37 percent felt that crime was at a moderate level and 12 percent said crime was relatively low.
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A majority of Calgary residents (about 72 percent) surveyed said crime in the city has increased over the past three years, while 22 percent of those interviewed said crime is much higher than it was. About 18 percent of participants feel things are about the same as three years ago.
Only 5 percent said that crime in the city has decreased.
In a statement to Global News, a CPS spokesperson said the survey was not a surprise.
“Although the results of the survey are disappointing, it is not a surprise as we have seen an increase in crimes affecting our community. While many crimes declined during the pandemic, we have seen a steady increase since the end of public health mandates and a return to everyday activities,” the statement said.
“We have listened to Calgarians and are focused on crime prevention, investigations and engagement with our community. To address many of the concerns we echo in these results, we have submitted a budget request for 2023-2026 that ensures we invest in areas that provide stability in a period of transformation.”
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But although the crime numbers are compared to 2021 and 2020, the city is no less safe than it was in 2019. In fact, the violent crime rate was actually slightly higher in 2019.
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The data from the Calgary Police Service shows that there were 3381 non-domestic violent crime cases (murder, sex offences, robberies, etc.) in Q2 2022, compared to 3371 in Q2 2019. This is an estimated 247.38 cases per 100,000 people in 20,522 cases per 100,000 people in 2019.
The 2022 per capita data has been calculated based on the average population growth rate of 2.43 percent since 2021. The average growth rate is based on population data from 2011. At the time of writing, the 2022 population data has not yet been released by the government. from Alberta.
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The latest CPS monthly report also showed that citywide disorder activity in September 2022 was comparable to the five-year average with 20 fewer calls. However, the year-to-date citywide disorder activity is slightly below the five-year average (1678 fewer calls were made).
Kelly Sundberg, an associate professor and criminologist at Mount Royal University, said there is a more visible presence of homelessness, disorder and addiction that can cause residents to think the community has more crime.
Sundberg also said social media and the economy play a role in Calgarians’ perception of crime. The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the way people consume information, and people are now more susceptible to misinformation.
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“Calgarians will see that incidents have happened in Atlanta, and that will affect our perception of crime and safety, even though we are thousands of kilometers away from each other. There is the influence of social media and cable media,” Sundberg said.
“With inflation, an unstable economy and the war in Ukraine, our world is currently in turmoil. This leads to people feeling all kinds of things and being worse off… People already have a negative feeling about other things in our society and this will transfer to crime perception.”
Sundberg said when members of the public perceive crime as worse than it is, policymakers will make bad decisions based on that.
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“The perception of crime and the reality of crime will cause more challenging issues,” the criminologist said.
“One of the key aspects of changing public perception is transfer, such as more information from the police about what is happening in the city. Politicians who politicize and reinforce the issue do not help.”
Ward 10 gr. Andre Chabot said the city wants to increase police funding in the next four-year budget, saying the CPS is one of the most underfunded police services compared to other municipalities in Canada.
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Chabot said the city is trying to keep taxes low while improving police services.
“It’s not surprising to me. I hear this from my constituents every day. They don’t feel as safe when they get on the transit system and when they’re out and about,” Ward 10 Coun. Andre Chabot told Global News.
“By cooperating with different institutions, we will try to nip an incident in the bud and prevent it from becoming a (violent) crime.”
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