Partners in crime prevention, Bradford West Gwillimbury and Innisfil have been jointly named the 10th safest place to live in Canada.
In an annual study of crime and population data by Macleans, the communities are ranked together because South Simcoe police covers both of those areas.
South Simcoe Police Chief Andrew Fletcher said the high ranking is all because of the hard work of local police officers and residents.
“It’s pretty exciting. Obviously we follow our crime severity index pretty closely,” he said, adding Statistics Canada released basic information in June or July.
Macleans published its complete findings earlier this week.
“How appropriate this … comes out during Crime Prevention Week,” Fletcher said.
“I’m so proud of our members. We gave them some goals … to try to bring our crime severity index down and clearance rates up.”
Those goals, he said, came from priorities outlined in the force’s strategic plan for 2018 and beyond, which included feedback from residents.
Tackling more drug offences, property crime, impaired driving, and weapon and domestic offences were among those priorities, which are still a focus for officers, he said.
Dealing with more mental-health issues in the community, which “can lead to disorder in people’s families,” is also a priority for South Simcoe police, he added.
In the last several years, South Simcoe’s crime severity index has gone down and clearance rates for wrapping up individual cases has gone up.
In 2017, the area’s crime severity index was 27, which is 20 per cent less than five years earlier, according to Statistics Canada.
South Simcoe police’s clearance rate for cases of violent and non-violent crimes has increased from 19 per cent to 42 per cent, Fletcher said.
Broken down further, he said the clearance rates for non-violent crime went from about 26 per cent in 2016, to about 58 per cent in 2017.
For violent crime, the clearance rate jumped from 54 per cent in 2016, to about 92 per cent in 2017.
The Macleans study also included the rate of certain crimes by population, which it listed as about 68,000 for BWG and Innisfil.
There was only one homicide in the area in 2017, which put the homicide rate per 100,000 people at 1.48.
The rate of breaking and entering per 100,000 people was listed at about 105, and the assault rate per 100,000 people was about 198.
Several other communities in and near Simcoe County made the list for the country’s safest communities.
Essa Township and area, including New Tecumseth and Adjala Tosorontio, ranked 22 on the list, with a crime severity index of 29.5, which is a 23-per-cent decrease from five years ago.
York Region placed 39, with a crime severity index of 37, which is a five-per-cent increase from five years ago.
Grey Highlands, near Collingwood, ranked 23 on the list, with a crime severity index of 29.6, which is a 20-per-cent decrease from five years ago.
Fletcher said police have found success in making BWG and Innisfil safer with more residents taking steps to protect themselves and then leaving the rest up to police.
“Help us help you. That's how we keep the community safe,” he said. “(It’s a) proud day for the South Simcoe police to rank that high across the country.”
By the numbers:
10: Where Bradford West Gwillimbury, Innisfil jointly rank on list of safest communities in Canada
20: In percentage how much the crime severity index in BWG, Innisfil has dropped between 2012 and 2017
27: The crime severity index for 2017 for BWG, Innisfil
42: In percentage, South Simcoe police’s overall clearance rate for violent and non-violent crimes (up from 19 per cent)
58: In percentage, clearance rate for just non-violent crime (up from 26 per cent)
92: In percentage, clearance rate for just violent crime (up from 54 per cent)
Top 10 safest places in Canada
1. Rothesay and Quispamsis, N.B.
2. Selwyn, Ont.
3. Amherstburg, Ont.
4. Petawawa, Ont.
5. Hamilton Township, Ont.
6. Georgian Bluffs, Ont.
7. Essex, Ont.
8. Kingsville, Ont.
9. LaSalle, Ont.
10. Innisfil and Bradford West Gwillimbury