Drug violations up, youth crime down: police report

They tackled a rise in violence between rival tow truck companies fighting over turf and financial profits and dismantled organized crime groups running illegal gaming houses and cannabis grow operations.

Those are among the successes York Regional Police (YRP) is sharing in its 2020 Annual Report and the 2020 Annual Statistics Report, a yearly report that includes five-year trends, crime statistics and other workload trends.

Like most policing jurisdictions around the world, YRP saw a drop in numerous types of crime but remains concerned about increases in several categories, including hate crimes, various cyber-related crimes, criminal harassment and intimate domestic violence.

The number of hate crimes reported to YRP increased from 133 in 2019 to 160 in 2020. Motivating factors were race/ethnicity (55.6 per cent), religion (23.8 per cent) and sexual orientation (13.8 per cent). YRP received 6,131 reports of intimate domestic-related occurrences in 2020 compared to 5,701 occurrences in 2019.

York Regional Police Chief Jim MacSween

“Given these ongoing challenges and increased crime that may occur as restrictions are eased, we continue to be vigilant and proactive in our enforcement, prevention and community-building efforts,” Chief Jim MacSween says. “As such, we will continue to work with our policing partners and the community to adjust our police response to ensure our citizens’ safety and well-being.”

Social justice issues also remain a concern.

“I am proud of the work we have done in our diverse communities but know there is still more to do. We are committed to leading the change that is needed,” MacSween says.

YRP is addressing that concern through initiative like the Inclusion Strategy, a multi-year, anti-racism education program for members designed to promote equitable and inclusive practices in their workplace.

Report highlights include an increase in drug violations, with 1,467 reported in 2020 compared to 1,023 in 2019. That represents an increase of 444 violations or 43.4 per cent. Among drug violations categories, the rate increased for possession (39.9 per cent), trafficking (48.9 per cent) and production (8.7 per cent).

Robbery violations, meanwhile, dropped from 366 in 2019 to 259 in 2020. Police saw an increase in ATM, financial and carjacking violations but a drop in retail, home invasion and street robberies. The number of stolen vehicles increased to 1,417 in 2020 from 1,384 in 2019 and 4,069 criminal traffic violations were reported in 2020, a decrease of 895 violations from the previous year.

The rate increased for dangerous operation (14.9 per cent), impaired operation (0.9 per cent) and drive while prohibited (33.5 per cent) but decreased for fail to stop or remain (34.9 per cent).

The youth crime rate per 1,000 population decreased to 9.83 in 2020 from 19.46 in 2019 and the number of young people involved in violent crimes decreased from 796 in 2019 to 461 in 2020.

In Markham, the number of break and enters dropped from 750 in 2019 to 431 in 2020 and in Stouffville, the number dropped from 75 to 47 in the same time period.

York Regional Police officers seized about $150 million worth of illegal cannabis, several firearms and exotic animals as part of Project Green Sweep in 2020. Photo courtesy of York Regional Police. 

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