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Youth crime increased by 60 per cent in 2002

RCMP officer calls trend “very disturbing”

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

MIRIAM HILL

Youth-related crime in Iqaluit took a jump in 2002, with almost 100 more incidents than in 2001.

Staff Sgt. Ed North presented the statistics to city council this week as part of the detachment’s monthly report.

In December, there were 25 youth-related occurrences, compared with 11 the same month in 2001. There were 251 occurrences in 2002 compared with 159 in 2001.

North called the trend “very disturbing” and said both the RCMP and the territorial government have made youth a top priority.

The situation may actually be worse than the numbers show, he said, in that the total represents the number of occurrences in which youth were involved, but doesn’t show the number of youth. For example, one stolen car would be counted as one occurrence, but may have involved five young people.

North said he was astounded by the statistics.

“I was very, very surprised. I didn’t think it was going to end up being that high for the year,” he said.

“It’s not that they’re bad kids, but is there enough things there to keep the children occupied?”

Liquor-related occurrences are also way up, from 704 in 2001, to 1,361 in 2002. North had no explanation for the increase, but suggested there may have been a different accounting system in 2001.

In a two-week period in December, 84 people, or about 97 per cent of the prisoners in the RCMP cells, were taken in for alcohol-related assaults. In two weeks in January, 78 people, or about 98 per cent were in for alcohol-related occurrences.

Family violence and domestic quarrels, counted as assaults, were also up, from 309 in 2001 to 519 in 2002.

On a positive note, snowmobile theft and weapons offences have decreased.

“You may not stop everything from happening, but if you can reduce some things you’ll be happy with it,” North said.

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