I was reading the Free Press the other day and there was mention of the 2009 Annual Report by the Winnipeg Police Services. The article said one could go to the WPS website to get a look at the report as well. So, of course I went looking for it. I was not able to find a link to the report myself, but after contacting the people at 311, I was given the URL for the Annual Reports. (http://www.winnipeg.ca/police/AnnualReports/annualreports.stm)
I took a look at the report, specifically the stats that were compiled at the end of it.
There were a few statistics that I found interesting. First, the stats showing crimes in the various parts of the City. I fully expected the North End (District 3) to show the highest number of crimes. That's a given, everyone knows that it would be the highest. For 2009 district 3 showed 40,106 crimes. But what I found more interesting is that the East District was not far behind at 36,106 crimes. Then I had a look at District 6, and it had more than half the amount found in District 3, showing 23,256 crimes. District 2 had the fewest crimes, with only 17,443. In looking at those same crime statistics I saw that District 2 and 6 showed a 7% increase in crime, where District 3 only had a 5% increase, and the East District had a meer 1% increase in crime.
The violent crimes, being murder, attempted murder, assaults, abductions, robberies, and other crimes against persons were higher in District 3 than the other Districts in the city, but the same could not be said for property crimes. The East District had the highest property crimes, at 10,692, followed by District 3 at 8,660, then District 6 showing 7,182, and lastly District 2 having only 5,061 property crimes in 2009.
As I looked further into the crime stats I saw a very disturbing statistic. It was the one concerning Young Offenders. In Total Criminal Code Offences, 23% of the offences were committed by Young Offenders. The information showed 16% of all Criminal Code Offences were committed by Male Young Offenders and 7% by Female Young Offenders. Breaking the statistics down, crimes against persons show 20% being committed by young offenders (14% male, 6% female). Crimes against Property are committed by Young Offenders 34% off the time (23% male, 11% female), and Traffic Offences are committed only 4% off the time by Young Offenders (3% male, 1% female).
When I think about the total number of crimes that are committed by Young Offenders I am reminded of the newspaper articles citing youths being arrested for the 10th, 50th, 80th time for the same type of offences. And these same youth are set loose on bail to continue their crime sprees. They are a huge burden on Police resources, and the court system. They are also quite a burden on citizens who are violated by their actions. Yet nothing is being done to correct the Youth Justice System in our city, province, or country.
I was at a breakfast a few weeks back, held by the Manitoba Justice people. One of the speakers at the breakfast was Chief Justice Raymond Wyant. In his speech he mentioned one success story in Brooklyn, New York. Apparently, they brought in a Community based court system. It is called the Red Hook Community Justice Center (http://www.courtinnovation.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Page.viewPage&pageID=572). It started in 2000, and has become a huge success. They system worked because the criminals were held accountable to their communities. And the community has a say in how people are sentenced. Instead of sending the offender through the regular criminal system, they are judged by their peers, possibly having to pay restitution in the way of repairing damages done, or doing volunteer work in the community. Could you imagine if the person who had been charged with the 80 counts of graffitti actually had to go out and remove the graffitti in the neighbourhood as a penalty. Maybe he would think twice about committing the crimes if he had to go out every day for the entire summer removing graffitti.
We need to put pressure on the governments, at all levels, to correct the Youth Justice System, and reduce the number of crimes being committed by the young people of our city.
Our children are supposed to be our greatest treasures, not our biggest threats. We need to take action and work with community organizations to keep kids out of gangs. We need to provide better after school programs for kids at risk, and fund the community centers in the North End, and other at risk areas, so they can keep kids busy and off the streets. We need to change the way Young Offenders are handled after being caught for crimes, and give the Police and Courts the tools to stop these youth from re-offending.
These are OUR kids, Winnipeg, not just the kids of the North End.