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City of North Battleford issues official statement ahead of 2022 Crime Severity Index ranking release

For many years, the City of North Battleford has completed extensive data analysis into the factors and results of the yearly Crime Severity Index. The Crime Severity Index is a tool that is used primarily to assist City government in determining funding and resource allocation for Community Safety Officers, and for Statistics Canada to track crime statistics. The CSI does not accurately represent whether a community is “safe” or “unsafe”.      

As outlined in the City’s Strategic Plan, overall community safety and wellbeing is a priority for City Council and Administration. The Crime Severity Index is a nuanced look at issues that are unfortunately familiar to many communities – a large percentage of which are borne of social problems.

To state that North Battleford is the “crime capital of Canada” or to refer to it as “Crime Town”, as it has been mischaracterized for many years, is a short-sighted and oversimplified dismissal of what are much deeper societal issues impacting much of Saskatchewan.

Crime Severity Index numbers are typically reported on starting with communities with populations of 10,000 or more. With the City’s population at slightly more than 14,000, North Battleford is often singled out when the Crime Severity Index rates are populated in comparison to other communities with higher populations.

Communities with smaller populations, like North Battleford, are more heavily impacted by serious crimes as weighted by analysts when determining the Crime Severity Index.

Having said that, the City of North Battleford anticipates seeing an increase in the 2022 CSI rates, set to be released soon. However, when comparing RCMP detachment areas of all sizes across Saskatchewan in 2021, North Battleford ranks 19th on the violent Crime Severity Index and 11th in the non-violent Crime Severity Index when the 10,000+ population threshold is removed.

Annually, a community’s total offense weighting is divided by their population to establish their Crime Severity Index rating. Violent crimes such as homicide, weapons offenses, and person-to-person crimes such as assaults are more heavily weighted. This has a negative impact when rating smaller cities, as a small change in crime can result in a larger CSI rating when compared to a larger City.

In calculating the CSI rates, Statistics Canada puts North Battleford in the same category as larger cities such as Toronto. For context, the population of Toronto is 200 times greater than North Battleford’s, meaning that when divided by their respective populations, a single homicide in Toronto will have a lesser impact on that city’s CSI rating than the same scenario occurring in North Battleford.                                   

In response to the CSI rates, the City and the province have each allocated additional policing resources to help lower the crime rate in North Battleford. However, with enforcement levels and resources at an all-time high in North Battleford, a rising Crime Severity Index is to be expected. This means that the city’s RCMP detachment is doing its job. This also includes the recent addition of a second Crime Reduction Team designated by the provincial government, and a warrant suppression team targeting the apprehension of violent offenders.  

The major drivers of North Battleford’s high CSI rate in the last few years have been minor and non-violent crimes. Non-violent crimes include offenses such as mischief, theft, trespassing, and files related to the administration of justice, breach of probation, bench warrants, and the like.

In addition, North Battleford is also a hub community on a major highway corridor that services a larger region, rural and transient populations – welcoming as many as 8,000-10,000 additional visitors per day, some of whom are interrupted by local police while conducting illegal activities within city limits.

The City of North Battleford is currently updating its provincially funded Community Safety & Well-being Plan. Gun violence also continues to be an issue. To address this, the City of North Battleford is also working with Public Safety Canada on a gun violence and gang extrication strategy to assist young people in exiting gang life to reinforce all available efforts and avenues to provide opportunities to our community members in need.       

In the wake of a rash of vehicle thefts, the City, the Town of Battleford, local Tribal Councils, Citizens on Patrol, and Battlefords RCMP partnered on a “9 pm Routine” – aimed at reminding residents of the region to lock their vehicles and remove their keys from their cars. Since this initiative’s inception, vehicle thefts have decreased by 31% in North Battleford. Since introducing a provision in its Licensing Bylaw regulating catalytic converters to deter thefts in late 2022, North Battleford has had zero incidents of catalytic converter theft.

The City is grateful for the contributions from other levels of government and the commitment of our residents. City residents have stepped up to assist with community safety and as a result, there has been a 75% increase in outdoor security camera registrations since 2021. However, there is only so much responsive work that can be done by the City, by police, and our residents to help promote community safety. North Battleford has significant social issues, and it cannot police itself out of this dilemma.       

The province of Saskatchewan annually reports extremely high rates of interpersonal violence. In 2022, interpersonal violence was reflective of 52% of all violent crimes in the province; this is compounded by mental health and substance abuse related illnesses, the highest rates of HIV and Syphilis in Canada, and an increasing prevalence in FASD cases in the province. Many of Saskatchewan’s problems may culminate in crime, however, they begin with social complications. The same is true for North Battleford.     

As a local government, the City of North Battleford does not have the resources or expertise available to adequately address the public health crises and serious social issues impacting the community. Although the City is committed to advocating for community members, to truly combat these incredibly significant societal health and social issues and the crimes that occur as a result, we require the assistance of the federal and provincial governments in both public health and social services to make notable and lasting community change.


For more information:
Candace Toma, Public & Intergovernmental Relations Coordinator
306-441-0713 |

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