Edmonton saw the most number of violent crimes ever reported in a single year in 2022 — and the Alberta capital is on track to see even higher numbers this year.
Sean Tout, Edmonton Police Service’s executive director of information management and analytics, said violent crimes during the first quarter of 2023 were up by about 6% compared to the same period in 2022.
“The volume of violent crime, the severity of violent crime and violence perpetrated against these victims continues to increase in the city of Edmonton at alarming rates,” Tout said at a news conference last week.
Last year, at least 15,040 violent crimes were reported in Edmonton. That’s an increase of 16.5% from the year before. Crime categories with the biggest increase during the time period include assaults, intimidation, and robbery.
Data also shows that at least two out of every ten violent crimes took place in downtown Edmonton.
There was also a 25% hike in violence that involved a firearm last year. But firearm-related crimes jumped 75% between January and March of this year compared to the same period last year.
Just last month, two Edmonton police officers were shot to death while responding to a call in the city’s northwest. Prior to that incident, the last Edmonton city police officer killed in the line of duty was Const. Daniel Woodall in June 2015.
Tout said between 2013 and last year, around 70% of victims who were attacked in transit centres did not know their offenders. That’s far above the city average, where 36% of victims didn’t know the attackers during the same period.
The service also released data on violent crimes before and after the 2019 passage of Bill C-75, federal legislation that gave courts and police authority to ease bail provisions.
Edmonton police data shows that 2,880 people were arrested and released in 2017. Of those, 1,784 people, or 60%, were involved in violent crimes again, including three homicides between 2017-19.
After Bill C-75 was passed, at least 3,647 people were arrested and released in 2020 in Edmonton. Of those, 68%, were engaged in violent crimes again, with 26 homicides between 2020 and January 2023.
“We know we have a small number of individuals disproportionately responsible for a large number of the volume of occurrences that equates to a large resource draw in identifying these individuals and holding them to account,” Tout said.
At a press conference in Edmonton earlier this month, Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre wondered “what’s happening to our cities” following a string of violent attacks and stabbings across Edmonton and Calgary.
That week, Edmonton police confirmed a man found dead in his apartment over the weekend had been shot to death in a homicide. That same day, a teenage boy was attacked in an Edmonton mall and was brought to the hospital in serious condition.
Poilievre said the situation is the same across Canadian cities following eight years under the Trudeau Liberals. For example, the same 40 offenders were arrested 6,000 times in 2022 in Vancouver, he said.
“That’s 150 arrests per offender per year,” he said. “You don’t have a lot of criminals in Canada. It’s a very small number that do the vast majority of crime.”
He attributed the crime wave to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “costly coalition with the NDP” and their policies that allow the same repeat violent offenders loose on the street to “terrorize innocent people.”
“We’ve got to replace these crazy catch-and-release crime policies with a common sense criminal justice reform, and that’s exactly what a Pierre Poilievre government will do,” he said.
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has been attempting to stem the criminal activity by hiring more police officers. Her government also launched an Edmonton public task force to respond to issues of addiction, homelessness and public safety.