Lethbridge has highest crime severity rate in Canada for third year in a row


The 2021 crime severity index — or CSI — rankings from Statistics Canada bear both good news and bad news for the Lethbridge census metropolitan area.

The good news: the area’s overall CSI is down from 138.52 points in 2020 to 128.65 in 2021 — a decrease of around seven per cent.

The CSI measures changes in the level of severity of crime in Canada from year to year, with different levels of violations holding different weights.

“The bad news is we are still number one,” said Shahin Mehdizadeh, chief of the Lethbridge Police Service.

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Despite being ranked worst amongst census metropolitan areas in all of Canada for the third consecutive year, the chief and mayor Blaine Hyggen said Lethbridge is a safe community.

“It’s a very safe community (and) you know what? There’s always going to be issues in any community,” Hyggen said.

According to the report, the decrease in Lethbridge’s CSI in 2021 can be attributed to a drop in non-violent crimes, such as breaking-and-entering and possession of stolen property.

Meanwhile, the violent crime index had a slight increase of 2.7 per cent.

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The Lethbridge CMA also ranked first when it came to opioid-related offences last year.

“In Lethbridge we’ve really listened to what the citizens are telling us — that’s the number one issue for them: drug issues and the opioid crisis,” Mehdizadeh explained. “Because of that, we’ve really increased our enforcement action on that front, hence you see much (higher) numbers.”

The Lethbridge CMA includes much of Lethbridge County as well, encompassing a total population of around 130,000 people.

Alberta RCMP could not provide Global News with specifics related to types of crime in the areas surrounding Lethbridge and how they factored into crime rates, but said there was a significant decrease in the CSI in Coaldale and a very slight increase in Picture Butte.

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There was an overall decrease in the CSI across the province.

“Generally, we’re pleased to see that there’s a decrease,” said cpl. Deanna Fontaine. “We want to continue to focus on our crime reduction strategies in order to continue to make an impact.”

The second-highest ranking behind Lethbridge was Kelowna, B.C. with an overall CSI of 122.29.

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© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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