Surrey’s crime rates are dropping more slowly than the Metro Vancouver average, according to a new report requested by a city councillor who questions the effectiveness of Surrey’s Crime Reduction Strategy (CRS).
Coun. Bob Bose isn’t buying the city’s suggestion there is a correlation between the CRS and the drop in criminal activity in Surrey. He was left confused after seeing a progress report on the CRS at a council meeting in May that didn’t include comparisons to Metro Vancouver’s overall crime rate.
“My reaction to the original report was I can’t really make any sense of this,” said Bose.
So Bose asked the city to put the crime numbers into context. A follow-up report showed there is a greater reduction in crime across Metro Vancouver.
Surrey’s CRS was implemented five years ago. From 2006-2009, provincial policing records show that Metro Vancouver’s overall crime rate dropped 20.5 per cent, while Surrey saw a 12.1-per-cent reduction.
“It’s unconvincing when looking at overall crime rates in the Metro Vancouver region,” said Bose. “Is (the CRS) having any measurable effects on crime rates? I think the answer is no.”
Surrey’s Crime Reduction Strategy manager, Colleen Kerr, said she did not include Metro Vancouver crime statistics in her CRS progress report because the focus was on Surrey.
She said she is confident the crime figures demonstrate that Surrey is continuing on a downward trend since the CRS began.
She noted the number of reported crimes in Surrey is higher this year than in previous years because of targeted education and enforcement campaigns, using marijuana grow operations as an example.
The city has allocated $300,000 in the 2011 budget for the CRS. Kerr said the money is put towards a number of different initiatives and programs that focus on areas such as domestic violence and substance abuse prevention. It also covers the wages of the CRS manager.
There are additional costs associated with the CRS: closed circuit TVs in high-crime areas are funded by a $330,000 grant from the provincial government. Surrey also spends $97 million a year for RCMP operating costs, one-third of the city’s budget.