Prince Rupert crime severity remains fairly steady for 2022

New stats from StatCan indicate the city ranks 16th in overall crime severity index

RCMP cruiser with lights flashing. (File photo)

RCMP cruiser with lights flashing. (File photo)

Prince Rupert’s (municipal) overall crime and violent crime severity indices remained relatively steady in 2022 compared to the previous year.

Data released by Statistics Canada (StatCan) on July 27 indicate the crime severity index (CSI) was 189.05 in 2022 compared to 175.65 in 2021, an increase of 7.63 per cent. That follows a decline of over six per cent in 2021 from 2020, however, keeping Prince Rupert crime fairly stable on five-year rolling average of roughly 176.

To calculate indices, each type of crime is given a weight based on the severity of the crime (i.e., murder counts much higher than common assault). The number of police-reported incidents for each offence is multiplied by the weight for that offence then all weighted offences are then added together and divided by the population of the jurisdiction.

Similar to the overall CSI for Prince Rupert, the 2022 violent crime severity index (VCSI) of 300.08 was consistent with the 2021 index of 307.26 (down slightly at 2.34 per cent).

Conversely, the Prince Rupert rural jurisdiction — which includes Port Edward and the surrounding First Nations communities — saw a staggering increase in VCSI of 37.21 per cent and a significant increase of 15.94 per cent in overall CSI.

On the other hand, Prince Rupert’s non-violent crime severity index jumped quite dramatically year over year with a 17.45 per cent increase from 124.54 last year to 146.27 this year.

While Rupert remained relatively even, it did end up moving up in rank in overall CSI out of the roughly 180 B.C. police jurisdictions for which data is available this year. It now ranks 16th up from 20th last year.

Smaller municipalities have always been skeptical of the meaningfulness of the crime severity indices noting that a single murder, for example, or a particularly troublesome hospital patient, can skew the numbers dramatically for a town of only 5,300 people and in any given year might not necessarily reflect the overall safety of the community.

StatCan acknowledges that taken discreetly, the numbers can be misleading, but nevertheless maintains they are useful in tracking crime trends and the relative safety of communities.

“The Crime Severity Index is also a tool for measuring the increase or decrease in the severity of crime over time in any given jurisdiction, such as provinces and territories, and for comparing the seriousness of crime among jurisdictions,” an article on the StatCan website states.

“Over time, police-reported crime rates have generally been higher in the west and north than in eastern and central regions of the country. This is also true for crime severity, as measured by the new Crime Severity Index.”

Reflecting the urban-rural, east-west and south-north divides, Prince Rupert continues to trend significantly above provincial and national averages.

Comparing Prince Rupert to national and provincial data for the period 2018-2022, the city’s five-year average CSI of 175.8 is well over double the Canadian average of 78.1 and nearly double B.C.’s average of 100.4.

The Prince Rupert average is also very significantly higher than Winnipeg Manitoba’s 2022 CSI of 136.6. Winnipeg displaced Lethbridge, Alta. in 2022 as the number 1-ranked census metropolitan area (CMA, or cities with more than 100,000 population.

Fort St. James (rural) ranked number one among B.C. municipalities again in 2022 with a CSI of 320.87, slightly down from the year before.

Fort St. James also took top spot for NVCSI at 281.49.

Lisims/Nass Valley (rural) claimed the highest VCSI in the province at 455.34.

B.C.’s big cities, Kelowna, Vancouver, Abbotsford-Mission and Victoria ranked second, 9th, 10th and 18th respectively among Canada’s 39 CMAs.

The Top 5 CMAs in the country were: Winnipeg, Man.; Kelowna, B.C.; Lethbridge, Alta.; Saskatoon, Sask.; and Regina, Sask.

Nearly 40 per cent of police-reported crimes in Canada are theft under $5,000 and mischief. The calculation of the severity indices gives lesser weight to these types of crimes and more to violent and serious crimes.


(Overall CSI)

1. Fort St. James

4. Williams Lake

13. Smithers

16. Prince Rupert

23. Houston

26. Terrace

27. New Hazelton

49. Kitimat

56. Burns Lake

77. Vanderhoof