December 4, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Violent crime in Winnipeg's downtown and the North End dropped last year, according to a new report which shows a police plan to reduce assaults and robberies has had some success.
Winnipeg police are targeting criminal activity by increasing police presence around high-risk venues and using crime analysis and intelligence to identify "high value targets" in the North End, according to an administrative report on their violent crime reduction strategy released this morning.
Last year, one extra cruiser was operating 24/7 in the highest crime areas in the downtown and the North End, the street crime unit conducted expanded patrols on weekends from May to September, and police expanded the number of officers deployed to the street crime unit for duties related to the gang response and suppression plan.
In the downtown, eight additional foot patrol officers were assigned to the downtown in January 2012, bringing the total to 16.
The report said the violent crime reduction strategy has had a degree of success.
In 2012, Portage Avenue districts -- which include the area around the University of Winnipeg, Portage Place, the sports and entertainment district, and commercial areas around Portage and Main -- saw a 14.5 per cent reduction in the number of violent crimes, which include things such as assaults, sexual assaults and robberies. Last year, 361 violent crimes were reported in these districts, down from 422 in 2011.
The total number of violent crimes against strangers also dropped. The report said 270 violent crimes against strangers were reported in the Portage Avenue districts, down from 343 the previous year -- a 21.3 per cent decline.
The North End police district, which includes an area bound by McGregor Street to the west, Dufferin Avenue to the south, Salter Street to the east and Burrows Avenue to the North, saw an 18.9 per cent drop in violent crime overall in 2012 and a 29.6 per cent reduction in the number of violent crimes against strangers.
In 2012, 215 violent crimes were reported in the area, down from 265 in 2011. The number of violent crimes against strangers dropped to 100 in 2012 from 142 in 2011.
Overall last year, the entire city of Winnipeg saw a reduction of 3.4 per cent in violent crimes and a 7.7 per cent drop in the number of violent crimes against strangers.
Council's protection and community service committee will review the report at a meeting on Monday.
Protection and community services chairman Coun. Scott Fielding said the numbers are going in the right direction, and he would like to find out what part of the strategy has worked well and whether the approach could be used in other parts of the city.
A Winnipeg Police Service spokesman said no one was available to comment on the report.
"There's lots more work that needs to be done and crime is still a major concern," Fielding said this morning. "We need to not take our eye off the ball."
Updated on Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 11:21 AM CDT:
adds reaction from Fielding