Edmonton, Alberta – The Edmonton Police Service’s Information Management and Intelligence Division has compiled data that shows that a small number of individuals are responsible for a large portion of the escalating violence in spaces where marginalized people are known to congregate.
The data shows that crime severity at the city’s 24-hour emergency shelters (Edmonton Convention Centre, Commonwealth and the CESSCO warehouse in Ritchie) is twice as high as the citywide average. At LRT stations, crime severity is three times as high as the citywide average (crime severity is calculated using the number of police-reported incidents for each offence multiplied by a nationally standardized weighting for that offence).
Further, the analysis shows that small numbers of individuals are involved in a disproportionate share of the criminal activity at these locations. At the shelters, the same 10 individuals are involved in 46% of the total police occurrences. At LRT stations, the same 335 people are involved in 38% of the total police occurrences.
EPS data analysts then looked at a cross-section of the top 20% of distinct offending individuals involved in occurrences at the LRT/transit centers, the top 20% of distinct offending individuals involved in occurrences at emergency shelter locations and those individuals that were identified as residing at an emergency shelter location. Of those people, 18 of the most prolific offenders were identified. More than half (56%) of these 18 prolific offenders have been identified as having possible street gang affiliations.
These 18 prolific offenders have been involved in 2,137 Criminal Code (or other provincial and federal statute) violations since 2006. Of those violations, 964 have occurred between January 2019 and March 2021, showing that 45% of the total violations by this group have been amassed in the last two years. The average crime severity of the top occurrence types at transit locations involving these prolific offenders is twice as high as the average severity of the top police occurrences citywide. A significant increase in the severity of violations involving these prolific offenders was also observed between December 2020 and January 2021.
“What concerns us about this data is the picture it paints of the experiences of vulnerable people who depend on public services like emergency shelter and transit,” says Insp. Angela Kemp, Crime Suppression Branch. “Our intelligence indicates that a small number of individuals involved in criminal activity and street gang affiliation have been involved in violent occurrences at emergency shelters and transit locations. This has the potential to expose those experiencing homelessness to increased violence and exploitation – the opposite of what we want these shelters to do. As Chief McFee has previously stated, vulnerable people and prolific offenders require different policing strategies, and when they are essentially forced together during these times of crisis, we have concerns for the safety of our marginalized citizens.”
EPS continues to work with the 24-hour emergency shelters to improve security, as well as perform proactive walkthroughs of the shelters and patrols of the surrounding areas. Whenever possible, officers work to connect people with supports like the Human-Centered Engagement and Liaison Partnership, or HELP. Police are also working with the City of Edmonton on an encampment strategy for the coming summer.
Edmonton Police Service
MRU #: 21R033
“Dedicated to Protect, Proud to Serve”
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