Editorial: North Cowichan crime ranking worth a critical eye at stats

Is it really that dangerous here?

Is it really that dangerous here?

The answer to that question is no, in our opinion.

If one only takes a cursory look at Macleans magazine’s ranking of North Cowichan as the 41st most dangerous community in Canada one might be led to panic.

But don’t board up the windows and doors just yet. We tend to agree with the cautious approach to the numbers that’s been taken by the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP.

First off, there’s been no division made between Cowichan communities, so calling these stats “North Cowichan” is problematic.

Second, some of the numbers are so small that a single incident or arrest can significantly skew the results.

For example, there were two homicides in the area in 2016. That’s unusual. In 2017, so far the number is zero. But when you’re taking such small numbers and trying to project them to a per 100,000 number the percentage becomes bizarre.

The RCMP are also correct that things end up looking worse the more they do their job. More arrests and charges mean higher stats, but presumably they also mean making our community safer. Ditto prolific offenders.

Is there more crime here than the community would like? Of course. Until the numbers are zero that’s going to be the case.

And we do have some areas where the numbers are worrying — domestic violence stats, for instance are nothing to be proud of and something we need to keep working on.

But let’s face it, when you walk down the street in Duncan or Chemainus, or head to the beach at Maple Bay, or stop for a coffee in Crofton, do you feel like you’re about to be set upon by gangs of miscreants? For the most part our communities are pretty great. Most of us feel safe in our homes and on our streets. So while the stats are interesting and can even perhaps point the way for things that need further attention, they also need to be looked at without hysteria and with a critical eye.

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