Quesnel is the eighth most dangerous place in Canada, according to a Maclean’s magazine ranking.
Maclean’s used data gathered in the StatsCan Crime Severity Index from 2012 to 2017, which measures both violent and non-violent crimes, to come up with the rankings.
The Crime Severity Index of a community is determined based on the the amount and severity of crimes reported to the police within a given jurisdiction. Each offence is assigned a weight, which is derived from the sentences (including the rate by which people are incarcerated for a particular offence and then the average length of the prison sentence) handed down by the courts in all provinces and territories for each particular offence.
This means a more serious crime, like homicide, would likely have a higher weight than a less serious offence like breaking and entering, for example.
Using this information, Maclean’s identified the rates of violent crimes, such as homicide, sexual assault, and assault, and non-violent crimes such as breaking and entering, fraud, and impaired driving, among others, in 237 communities across the country.
These rates reflect the average rate of each crime per 100,000 people. So if an area with a smaller population, like Quesnel – with a population of 10,000 people – were to have one homicide in a year, the rate of homicides would be 10 per 100,000 people.
By comparison, if a city of a similar size to Prince George – with 70,000 people – were to have only one homicide, they would have a substantially lower rate of 1.42 homicides per 100,000 people.
Each of the cities and towns listed as the top 10 most dangerous places in Canada, it is worth noting, has a population of less than 104,000 people.
Quesnel is listed as the eighth most dangerous place in Canada, immediately following Williams Lake at number seven, and before Prince George, at number 10.
Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson says the term ‘most dangerous place’ is a gross misrepresentation of the community. He says crime statistics, particularly non-violent property crimes, for instance, don’t necessarily equate to danger. “And if you actually look at assaults, bodily injury, any kind of personal bodily injury type crimes, we’re nowhere near any classification of dangerous,” says Simpson.
Mayor Simpson adds that although he does not believe Quesnel is dangerous, it does have a serious problem with property crime, adding that council has a committee specifically working to lower crime rates within the city.
“We have a crime reduction specialist who will be tabling a report with us very shortly here that that committee will then begin to put into action,” says Simpson.
Beyond just the ‘most dangerous places,’ the Maclean’s rankings also break the statistics down further: Quesnel is ranked the 15th worst place for violent crimes in Canada, 15th worst for sexual assaults, 12th worst for assaults, 14th worst for firearms offences, 38th worst for robbery, sixth worst for breaking and entering, 21st worst for fraud, 14th worst for impaired driving, 43rd worst for cannabis trafficking, 74th worst for cocaine trafficking, 17th worst for other drug trafficking, and 81st worst for youth crime.
While Quesnel ranks in the 100 worst in each set of crime rates measured, the city is in 114th place for “five-year change in Crime Severity Index,” meaning, in short, crime rates have been trending down in the city over the past five years.
Quesnel is trending down in its rates of assault, robbery, impaired driving, cannabis trafficking/production, cocaine trafficking/production, and youth crimes.
Quesnel is also seeing an increase in reports of sexual assault, firearms offences, fraud, and the trafficking of controlled drugs other than cannabis and cocaine.
Moreover, an increase in sexual assaults does not necessarily mean there are more sexual assaults occurring. With the rise of the #MeToo movement, more sexual assaults have been reported across the province, which StatsCan has said “may have had an impact on the willingness of victims to report sexual assault incidents to police.”