Impaired driving still a concern in Q3 crime stats

Sgt. Chris Dodds delivers third quarter crime statistics to Cranbrook city council.

Alcohol involved accidents and impaired driving incidents continue to increase, according to a third-quarter crime statistics update to Cranbrook city council.

Delivered by Sgt. Chris Dodds on behalf of detachment commander S/Sgt. Hector Lee, the stats showed that the RCMP continue to issue more Immediate Roadside Prohibitions (IRP) and rising incidents of alcohol-involved car accidents than this time last year.

There have been 16 alcohol-involved MVAs, as compared to 6 this time last year, while 14 of those have resulted in charges. IRPs rose slightly, with four more handed out this year to date than at this time last year, while 30 Roadside Suspensions, one less from last year, have been issued.

“Certainly a concern, alcohol-involved motor vehicle accidents and alcohol-related charges as a result of motor vehicle incidents have gone up quite significantly,” Dodds said. “About 10 MVAs involving alcohol more this year than as opposed to last year and about 10 more alcohol charges over last year.

“We’re certainly working on that, that’s one of our mandates here. We’re always working hard on impaired driving and trying to be proactive in terms of impaired driving and hopefully that will slow down.”

Dodds added that impaired driving campaigns will begin soon, such as CounterAttack, leading up to Christmas.

However, in terms of the big picture, the stats are pretty similar to last year, as RCMP have responded to 1,752 calls in the third quarter, one less than Q3 last year.

“We’re pretty much bang on par in comparison to the 2015 numbers,” Dodds said. “In fact, we’re one below calls for service at this time last year, so it’s amazing how statistics work.

Person offences — assaults, sex assaults, assaults with a weapon, robberies, threats, criminal harassment — in the third quarter were up 22 per cent, however, from a year to date standpoint, that total is down three per cent.

Property related offences like break, enter and theft, mischief to property and thefts were down both in the quarter and year to date numbers.

Other criminal code offences such as causing a disturbance, breach/bail violations, firearms offences, public mischief, obstructing a police officer and counterfeit currency were also down.

To date in 2016, there are 1,130 Criminal Code files, which is 94 fewer than this time last year. The clearance rate, where RCMP recommend charges to Crown prosecutors, sits at 39 per cent, as police have cleared 443 files to date.

“We’ve cleared more files this year, which is great to see,” Dodds said. “It could be due to a lot of factors, but typically it’s diligent investigations by members, so we’re up by 443 cleared files, compared to 398 last year.”

In terms of drug trafficking, RCMP have opened 73 files to date this year — the same amount as last year.

“Drug file clearance rate is 79 per cent, which is really good to see, it’s super high,” Dodds continued. “Our CRU (Crime Reduction Unit) team has been doing some excellent work on the street and to the mid-level type investigations that we typically get into at our detachment level.”

On traffic tickets, the RCMP are down 35 per cent, however, notices and warnings are up by 101 per cent.

In addition to providing the third quarter crime stats, Dodds also introduced Cst. Erin Stevenson, who has moved into the RCMP’s Mental Health Liaison role (see related story) and will work with community partners to reduce mental health calls.

According to Dodds, mental health calls have also spiked as police have responded to 592 calls this year, as compared to 369 calls at this time last year.