Youth crime numbers increase in Waterloo Region in 2023

By CityNews Kitchener Staff

The Waterloo Regional Police Service has revealed statistics on youth crimes last year in Waterloo Region. It comes from Wednesday’s Police Services Board meeting.

The report shows youth crime involvement numbers have stabilized over the last four years, as since 2019, police are having about 15000 interactions per year with youth aged 17 or younger.

Comparing the first three quarters of 2022 to 2023, the number of youth aged 12-17 charged or diverted has also increased. Charges laid increased by 28 per cent, youth diversions have gone up by seven per cent and the total youth involved in crimes rose by 11.5 per cent.

A different comparison of 2022 statistics show a trend of youth violence on the rise as well. Firearms offences saw the largest increase at 48 per cent when compared to 2019.

Police also measure potential factors that cause criminal behaviour in youth, and intimate partner violence appears to play a significant role.

WRPS recorded 6700 incidents of intimate partner violence in 2022 and about 2800 of those involved children aged 16 or younger. Uniform Crime Reporting indicated that 26 per cent of those children were involved in more than one police occurrence during the same year, and that they were more likely to be involved with crime through their lifetime.

Chief Mark Crowell said WRPS is staying committed to the Community Safety & Wellbeing Plan to change these trends.

“We look forward over the coming months and years on layering out our total commitment to those positive interventions with youth, crime prevention efforts and those community collaborative connnections that we can make to get people on the better path,” said Crowell.

Regional Councillor and board member Doug Craig added that the numbers are not what the board wants to see.

“For all us, it’s disappointing to see some of the youth statistics… or to listen to the news at night when you find that four youth that been arrested for stealing cars aged 14 to 18. I find that very upsetting,” said Craig, who adds that police are very engaged in the community and believes they are doing the right things through the Community Safety & Wellbeing Plan.

“I think we’re on the right track, we’re doing all the right things,” said Craig. “I think we just need to blow our horn a little louder at times in terms of the positive things the police service is doing.”

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