North Okanagan criminal activity decreases

The bad guys weren’t as busy last year.

There was an 8.8 per cent decrease in criminal code investigations at the Vernon/North Okanagan RCMP detachment in 2011.

“That’s ahead of the national average. We’re very happy with that,” Supt. Reg Burgess told Vernon city council Monday.

There was a decrease in activity during all four quarters in 2011, including a 5.4 per cent drop from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31.

Burgess insists a number of factors have played a significant role in the current trend.

“The big thing is the crime reduction strategy and we’re focusing on chronic offenders,” he said, adding that a critical aspect is reviewing whether individuals are following parole terms such as curfews.

“They either seek help (to resolve breaches) or they go back to jail.”

Drug houses, or crack shacks, are also capturing few headlines.

“Our crew has done an excellent job of taking down higher profile ones but there are still crack houses in the city,” said Burgess, adding that the RCMP co-operates with bylaw enforcement and residents.

“If you get a neighbourhood behind you, you can do a lot.”

The final quarter of 2011 was busy, with some of the cases including the Taylor Van Diest homicide in Armstrong, a string of robberies and investigating a sexual assault allegation.

Burgess believes there is a reduced public perception that crime is a problem locally.

“We’re continuing to improve the environment. Overall, we’re getting good feedback.”

While pleased with current statistics, Burgess says the detachment is focused on reducing criminal activity further, as well as road safety offences.

The Vernon/North Okanagan RCMP will soon be initiating its annual consultation process with local community leaders and the public over policing issues.

“We want to get the community to tell us what they want us to work on,” said Burgess.



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