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Violent crime dipped in 2020 due to pandemic, but rates still above average

Police vehicles at Calgary Police Service headquarters in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 9, 2020, amid a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

CALGARY – A recent report from the Calgary Police Service says violent crime dipped last year, but it was still above average for the past five years.

Police say the change in stats is due to pandemic restrictions, with people changing their habits, but shootings still saw an increase.

“The data shows that violent crime volumes were closely tied to the lockdown measures, showing significant drops in April and December during periods of greatest restriction. As the economy reopened in June, violence returned to average levels reaching 2019 levels by July,” reads the fourth-quarter report from CPS.

“At its peak in August last year, violent crime exceeded 2019. Threats to cause bodily harm or death and harassing communications increased notably during this time, with increases seen between non‐familial relationships like business relationships, friends, and strangers.”

READ THE FULL REPORT:

There were 34 homicides in 2020, five of which were domestic-related, and CPS says sexual assaults were at their lowest level in the last four years.

“Fewer victims reported domestic violence than in 2019. Since April, reports of domestic violence have been 14 per cent below the same period in 2019,” the report continues.

“There were, however, higher numbers of victims reporting more serious assaults and sexual violence. Domestic assaults involving a weapon or causing bodily harm increased. In 2020 reported domestic‐related sex offences were down from those received in 2019 but were one-quarter higher than the five‐year average.”

In 2020, shootings were up 40 per cent compared to the last five years.

The Public Safety Task Force in the city is focusing on addressing systemic racism and decreasing gun violence.

Meanwhile, Calgary police have agreed to divert about $3 million from its budget to policing alternatives.