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Greater Sudbury’s violent crime severity index hits record high

At 137.9, Greater Sudbury’s violent crime severity index is the highest it has been since Statistics Canada began recording it in 1998, and is the third highest among 36 Canadian metropolitan areas listed in their latest report
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Greater Sudbury's violent crime severity index hit 137.9 in 2022, which is the highest it has reached since Statistics Canada began measuring the index in 1998.

Greater Sudbury’s violent crime severity index hit a record high for the region last year, with its 137.9 ranking putting it No. 3 among 36 metropolitan areas listed.

This, according to Statistics Canada’s 2022 crime severity index report, released last week. The index has been recorded since 1998. 

The jump shouldn’t come as too great a surprise for those following local news, with Greater Sudbury Police Service reporting in June a 5.3 per cent jump in violent offences last year.

This included a record-setting 12 homicides recorded in 2022. 

At the time, Chief Paul Pedersen clarified that the vast majority of violent incidents involve victims and offenders known to each other, “so they’re not a danger to strangers.”

He noted there had been an increase in violence related to guns, gangs and drugs in the community.

Despite a 145-incident jump in violent offences last year, police recorded an overall one per cent drop in criminal offences in 2022, aided by a 499-incident decrease in property crimes.

This difference between violent and non-violent crime rate changes is also reflected in Statistics Canada’s latest crime severity index report, which notes that Greater Sudbury’s overall crime severity index decreased slightly, from the 85 recorded in 2021 to the 82.8 recorded in 2022. 

A similar trend was recorded in last year’s Statistics Canada crime severity index report on 2021 numbers, which noted a 4.3 per cent drop in Greater Sudbury’s overall crime severity index and a 13 per cent jump in the violent crime severity index.

Between 2021 and 2022, Greater Sudbury’s violent crime severity index increased from 129.1 to 137.9, and the non-violent crime severity index decreased from 68.2 to 61.4.

Among Canadian metropolitan areas, only Thunder Bay and Winnipeg outranked Greater Sudbury when it came to violent crime severity indexes, at a respective 204.8 and 190.1.

When it comes to overall crime severity index, Greater Sudbury’s 82.8 ranks it as No. 11 worst of 36 Canadian metropolitan areas listed in 2022. Thunder Bay is No. 7, at 103.5. 

The crime severity index measures both volume and severity of crime, with each crime assigned a weight based on the crime’s incarceration rate and the average length of prison sentences handed down. As such, more serious crimes have a greater impact on the index.

Greater Sudbury’s violent crime severity index has been on a steady rise since its latest low of 62.5 was recorded in 2016, since which time it has more than doubled.

The 20-year average violent crime severity index for Greater Sudbury is 83.9, and the five-year average has been 112.7. 

Sudbury.com reached out to Greater Sudbury Police Service spokesperson Kaitlynn Dunn on Friday morning requesting an interview with Pedersen, but the request was denied.

Dunn, a civilian member who serves as corporate communications co-ordinator, indicated that she is the spokesperson for the crime severity index and is the one answering media questions.

In a written response to Sudbury.com’s inquiry, Dunn pulled several statistics from the data provided to police, and offered some insights behind the numbers.

“There were notable increases in Homicides (+64.4 per cent), Violent Firearm Offences (+55 per cent) and Level 1 Sexual Assault (+4.8 per cent) compared to 2021,” she wrote. 

Dunn noted that Sudbury is following a national trend in which firearm-related offences have been on an upswing for the past several years.

“Locally, we continue to see individuals involved in organized crime migrate from southern Ontario to Northern Ontario in order to establish criminal enterprises that involve trafficking illicit substances and/or persons,” she wrote. 

“These incidents usually involve firearms. Through enforcement initiatives in 2021 and 2022, officers seized over 30 firearms from individuals associated with criminal enterprises.”

When it came to a question regarding how police operations have changed with the increase in violent crime, Dunn pointed to existing efforts, such as the Integrated Crime Section of their Criminal Investigation Division and their role in the province-led Guns and Gangs Task Force.

As for last year’s decrease in overall crime, Dunn noted significant decreases in Breaking and Entering (-20.8 per cent), Threats (-6.3 per cent), Robbery (-5.4 per cent) and Fraud (-1.4 per cent).

Dunn cited a number of targeted policing efforts as leading to these decreases, such as crime prevention messaging and focused patrols in high-traffic, high-complaint areas.

Using preliminary 2022 crime statistics, Sudbury.com reported earlier this year on the breakdown in crime by neighbourhood, revealing the greatest overall change in crime rates took place downtown, where incidents dropped by 39.7 per cent.

The downtown’s violent crime dropped by 50 per cent (to 242 cases), while property crime dropped by 32.2 per cent (to 450 cases). 

Neighbourhoods to its immediate north, the Donovan and Flour Mill, also saw their crime rates plummet considerably, with a respective 10.4 per cent and 30.8 per cent.

Nationally, the crime severity index increased by 4.27 per cent in 2022, reaching 78.1. The violent crime severity index, meanwhile, jumped by 4.61 per cent to its current 97.7.

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.


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Tyler Clarke

About the Author: Tyler Clarke

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.
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