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Overall crime rates in Fort St. John appear to have decreased in the first six months of 2010.

The RCMP semi-annual report presented by Inspector Patrick Egan to Council on Monday shows the crime rates and service calls for the first half of 2010 compared to the same time period for both 2009 and 2008.

Egan said that last year, the detachment identified three main areas of focus which are continuing this year. The areas are traffic, drugs, and youth boredom.

According to the report, the number of calls for service has decreased over the three year period from 7097 in the first half of 2008 to 6993 in 2009 to 6551 in 2010. He says the overall change since last year accounts for a 6 per cent decrease.

Criminal code cases have decreased approximately 8 per cent and the number of people in custody is down by about 3 per cent.

Criminal Code offenses are also down with crimes against people having decreased slightly (2 per cent since 2009) and property crimes dropping 12 per cent.

As well, violent crimes have decreased more significantly from last year; however the actual number of violent robberies, police officer assaults and sex offences are not very high.

The number of robberies has decreased from 6 in 2009 to 5 in 2010 and sex offences from 25 in 2009 to 23 in 2010.

Egan pointed out that there have been a few increases in certain crime types during these months over the 2009 period.  These include common assaults (up from 222 to 233), theft (up from 105 to 121), vandalism (up from 190 to 195), and cocaine trafficking (up from 15 to 25).

However, two significant decreases in crimes were a 60 per cent drop in business break and enters and a drop of 40 per cent in vehicle thefts.

Furthermore, the number of instances where publicly intoxicated people were taken off the streets has decreased 37 per cent.

Inspector Egan said that although there was no absolute data, the use of drugs and alcohol are often significant factors in certain crimes.

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One item of note is that since the report only took into consideration reported crimes to June 30, arsons had actually decreased over last year, however, less than two weeks past that date there have been at least two investigations into arson crimes in Fort St. John.

A report was also before council Monday which looked at the municipal contract for policing resources. The Fort St. John RCMP detachment has a Police Resource Review in progress to determine if additional officers or equipment will be needed as the city continues to grow. City council voted in favour of sustaining the 34 members of the detachment until the report is completed, which will likely be in the fall of 2010.

The report presented to council can be viewed below.

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