The problem: Saskatoon, which has a population of 206,000, had the highest robbery rate in the country in both 2006 and 2007. In 2007, the city’s robbery rate per 100,000 residents increased slightly over 2006, to 266 per cent above the national average from 243 per cent. Winnipeg was a close second in both 2006 and 2007, with a robbery rate 221 and 234 per cent above the national average respectively.
What’s being done to deal with it: Most often, says Saskatoon police public affairs officer Alyson Edwards, the robberies constitute random street thefts; items like hats and iPods are nicked from unsuspecting pedestrians. Under the new restructuring plan, implemented in June 2007, the police divided the city into three distinct districts, and assigned an inspector to field concerns from the neighbourhood residents. Crime statistics are now analyzed daily and presented at a monthly meeting, during which inspectors are held accountable. Currently, 40 per cent of resources are dedicated to the central district, where most violent crimes occur. Almost immediately, says Edwards, “we were beginning to see results.” In 2008, she says, the number of robberies was down 31 per cent over 2007. Says Edwards, “We’ve made some really great strides here.”