Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Langley City, Other Smaller Cities, and the Crime Severity Index Bias. Doing Something About It.

The Crime Severity Index is a tool that is used to help measure the severity of police-report crime in a community. People know that homicide is a more serious crime compared to causing a disturbance. Traditional crime rates only look at the crime volume rather than the volume and seriousness.

The Crime Severity Index, which Statistics Canada puts together, accounts for volume and seriousness. Simplified, the Crime Severity Index looks at the volume of crime, but each crime is weighted. One homicide would impact the Crime Severity Index of a community more than 1000 “causing a disturbance” as an example. Statics Canada determines the weighting for each type of crime based on the length of convictions people receive. The Crime Severity Index is also divided by population.

Because of how this works, lower-population municipalities tend to have worse Crime Severity Index scores. You can see this bias in action by visiting the Canada Crime Index site and toggling between 5k, 10k, 25k, and 100k.

This population bias is one of the reasons why Langley City and North Battleford can end up on the top of some media reports as “the most dangerous places in Canada,” as opposed to Surrey or Edmonton, for example.

With this in mind, the Mayor of North Battleford is hosting a conference from “February 28-29, 2024, in Saskatoon, comprised of attendees representing the 20 highest ranked communities with populations of more than 10,000 residents to discuss common struggles faced by this ranking system.”

The conference’s outcome will be to find a path forward to change how Statistics Canada reports communities’ Crime Severity Index to account for this population bias.

At last night’s Langley City Council meeting, Council unanimously approved Langley City’s Crime Prevention Committee Chair and Co-Chair Councillors Paul Albrecht and Delaney Mack to attend the conference and be reimbursed for attending. City staff estimate the cost will be $3,000 in total.

I look forward to the outcome of this conference and thank Councillors Albrecht and Mack for being willing to travel to Saskatoon in the dead of winter.

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