Yesterday, I questioned the Downtown BIZ’s contention that only 5.7 per cent of the city’s crime happened within their boundaries. Those boundaries are [map provided courtesy of the DT BIZ]
North is Higgins Avenue to just east of Main Street
West is just west of Hargrave but also Spence Street just past Ellice Avenue.
South is the Assiniboine River along Assiniboine Avenue.
East is the Red River and includes The Forks.
They also kindly provided this statistical chart:
And as much as I can see that the problem has to do with outlying areas outsize the zones contributing to a skewed total number of crime incidents that the BIZ folk must pare down to reflect their zone of operations, I’m still not buying it.
Here’s what the BIZ had to say, and it’s totally fair and understandable.
“Downtown is in District 1, however, District 1 comprises a much larger area than the actual downtown boundaries.
(There is definitely a lot of crime in that district, but it’s not happening in the BIZ zone boundaries. Because we are only responsible for those boundaries, that’s what we report as crime in downtown.)
Because of this, we actually take the time to add up all of the 11 neighbourhoods that make up downtown each month and report the resulting crime stats up that way. That’s where the numbers came from in the Trends report and the ones we continue to talk about.”
The above chart says that between July 10, 09 to July 10, 2010, there was one homicide within the BIZ zone. And technically, that’s true.
Get just outside the reporting period, however, and one learns that there were three there in 2009:
So far this year, however, there have been none.
I should add that technically, homicides are a poor indicator of crime and safety in an area given that the crimes usually don’t involve the public at large but are rather crimes of passion committed in the heat of the moment.
But, as the BIZ spokesperson said, it’s the perception that downtown is crime-ridden that’s an issue.
“One of the messages we are always trying to get across to people is that crime in downtown is more about perception than actual safety. Many people feel their personal safety is threatened when they are panhandled, whether they are in any danger or not.”
Well if that’s the case, a recent CBC story indicates that people’s negative perceptions of crime in the area are hardening, not becoming more positive.
The perception of safety in Winnipeg’s downtown during the day is on the decline, a public opinion survey commissioned by the Winnipeg Police Service suggests. -edit-
“It seems that confidence in daytime safety downtown has eroded across all neighbourhoods,” wrote the unidentified police official who summarized the poll findings in a report.
In a poll done in 2008, more than half the 400 Winnipeggers surveyed agreed with this statement: “During the daytime, downtown Winnipeg is safe.”
The number dropped to about 40 per cent in the most recent poll, conducted by Dataprobe Research of Winnipeg.
Most troubling is that even people living downtown feel less safe during the day, the findings suggest.
In 2008, 85 per cent of the people surveyed agreed the downtown was safe. In the latest poll, the percentage dropped to 42 per cent, although only 4.75 per cent of those surveyed identified themselves as downtown residents.
This was from February, 2010. I remember writing it based on the work done by Sean Kavanagh.
Now, I sympathize with the BIZ folk. Their job is not an easy one. As I clearly stated yesterday, I admire them in a lot of ways. But when you’re confronted by pictures like this:
You begin to question the stats.
I’m not saying they’re wrong or fudged. They just feel that way to a guy who’s spent the last few years of his life looking at crime and justice in the city fairly closely.
But then again, I’m in the reality business. So I like to think.