Safe Surrey’s crime stats are misleading

Numbers must be looked at in the context of the big picture.

The Safe Surrey Coalition recently posted a piece on its website stating that Surrey is the only Metro Vancouver city to see an increase in violent crime.

To support this, they provide a chart showing the difference between total incidents in 2012 and 2003. This is problematic for two reasons.

First, only two points in time are compared. Looking at real numbers, Surrey actually mirrors the overall trend of declines in total violent crimes. It’s true that there were 267 more violent offences in 2012 compared to 2003, but violent crime in our city actually peaked in 2007 and has been declining ever since. Nine local municipalities actually experienced increases in violent crime between 2011 and 2012. Surrey wasn’t one of them.

A second problem is that population growth is ignored. In the 10 years between 2003 and 2012, Surrey’s population grew by 99,178, or approximately 25 per cent. No other municipality experienced this level of growth. Vancouver, the closest point of comparison, grew by 83,939 people or approximately 14 per cent.

Surrey is also home to more than one-quarter of Metro Vancouver’s youth aged 10 to 18. While the vast majority of young people are well adjusted, a younger population is associated with higher rates of crime.

Looking at total criminal offences as a function of population, Surrey’s crime rate has declined consistently, from a high of 127.9 offences per 100,000 people in 2003 to 89.3 offences per 100,000 in 2012.

If one were to go by crime rate alone, Langley City would actually be Metro Vancouver’s current crime capital, with 152.9 offences per 100,000.

Let’s face it, Surrey has its issues and even one incident of violent crime – or crime, for that matter – is too many.

That said, crime statistics must be considered in context in order to develop a more fulsome picture of where we find ourselves.

Only then can we hold a meaningful dialogue regarding how to achieve a safer, healthier community.


Duncan Stephen

Surrey North Delta Leader

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