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Barrie area ranks lowest on Violent Crime Severity Index — again

Latest numbers from Statistics Canada place Barrie, Innisfil and Springwater Township among safest in the country

Barrie continues to have one of the country’s lowest rankings on Canada’s Crime Severity Index (CSI), even though police-reported crime numbers have increased locally as well as nationally.

Barrie also ranks as the country’s lowest city on the Violent Crime Severity Index, despite a jump in murder charges laid locally in 2022.

Of all the provinces, Ontario reported the country’s lowest CSI in 2022, followed closely by Prince Edward Island and Quebec.

The CSI tracks changes in the severity of police-reported crime from year to year, taking into account the change in volume of a particular crime and the relative seriousness of that crime in comparison to other crimes.

“For Barrie, the overall CSI, you’re the second lowest CMA (census metropolitan area) in Canada,” explained Warren Silver, national training officer for the Canadian Centre for Justice and Community Safety Statistics policing program with Statistics Canada, “which means that of all the big major cities, you have the the second lowest Crime Severity Index. And for the Violent Crime Severity Index, you have the lowest.”

The Barrie CMA includes Innisfil and Springwater Township.

Quebec City was the only CMA with an overall ranking lower than Barrie’s. Sherbrooke was third, followed by Saguenay, Que., and Toronto.

Last year, Barrie was the third lowest on the overall CSI ranking. This is the third consecutive year that Barrie has ranked the lowest on the violent crime scale.

“It’s been pretty low for most things,” Silver said, adding that there was an overall increase here in 2022 as there was in most of the country’s larger municipalities.

There was an even larger increase in violent crime in Barrie, but Silver said the local numbers were still fairly low comparatively, allowing it to retain its standing as having the country’s lowest violent crime ranking.

Barrie’s violent crime increase was driven by a jump in following charges:

— First-degree murder: three in 2022, up from one in 2021

— Fraud: 1,111 in 2022, up from 913 in 2021

— Attempted murder: five in 2022, up from one in 2021

There were also increases in motor-vehicle thefts and sexual assaults.

Nationally, the rate of police-reported fraud was 78 per cent higher than a decade earlier.

There was also an increase in police-reported homicides, with 874 in 2022, which is 78 more than the year before.

The number of sexual assault charges laid increased by three per cent in 2022 compared to the previous year, nationally.

The most recent CSI determined that police-reported crime in Canada has increased for the second consecutive year, up four per cent in 2022, the same increase as in Barrie. Quebec City, meanwhile, saw an increase of nine per cent.

There was upward movement in crime that was seen prior to the pandemic, although Silver said it’s still too early to determine whether or not this is a new or returning trend.

Both the violent and non-violent CSI rose in 2022, with the violent CSI reaching its highest point nationally since 2007. 

Winnipeg had the country’s highest CSI, followed by Kelowna, B.C.; Lethbridge, Alta.; and Saskatoon, Sask.