Halton_police_shoulder_flash___ContentHalton’s crime rate is the lowest it has been since the advent of regionalization.

Halton Regional Police is reporting the lowest crime rate since the region was formed in 1974, part of a steady decline in criminal activity over the past several years.

According the department’s recently released 2015 annual report, total reported crime decreased by 2.8 per cent to 9,954 incidents in 2015 from 10,241 the year before.

Once population growth is factored in — Halton’s population increased to 543,577 people last year compared to 530,944 in 2014 — the total crime rate decreased to 5.1 per cent. That’s a rate of 1,831 crimes per 100,000 population in 2015 compared to 1,929 per 100,000 the year before.

Those rates compare to a high point of nearly 8,500 per 100,000 population — nearly fives times the current rate — that was experienced in Halton during the 1980s.

The overall crime rate in Burlington, with population increases considered, dropped 10.8 per cent (3,332 incidents); the Oakville crime rate dropped 2.6 per cent (3,542); and the Halton Hills/Milton crime rate decreased 7.6 per cent (3,041).

Violent crime in Halton increased 4.1 per cent to 1,973 incidents in 2015, an adjusted increase of just 1.6 per cent when the population increase is factored in.

The 2015 decline — using figures that reflect population growth — was greatest with property crimes, which saw a drop of 8.6 per cent to 6,787 reported incidents.

The fall in property crimes is consistent with what other police departments are finding, said Keith Moore of the Halton police department’s planning and research section.

“Property crimes have been going down for many years back to the 1990s, not just in Halton but basically across the Western world,” Moore said.

The major factor is demographic change. There are fewer young people now than when Baby Boomers were young, and “it’s younger age groups that are more prone to commit property crime.”

On the slight increase in violent crimes, Moore said it is not statistically significant because of the relatively low numbers of violent crimes in the region.

For example, there were just two homicides in 2015, one more than in 2014.

Last year, Statistics Canada said Halton is the safest community in the country among those with populations of more than 100,000.

A selection of figures from the force’s 2015 annual report:

Total calls for service — 2015: 151,355; 2014: 152,915 (1 per cent decrease)

Clearance rate — 2015: 46.4 per cent; 2014: 46.6 per cent

Attempted murder — 2015: 3; 2014: 1

Sexual assault — 2015: 151; 2014: 143 (5.6 per cent increase)

Assault — 2015: 1,289; 2014: 1,262 (2.1 per cent increase)

Robbery — 2015: 62; 2014: 56 (10.1 per cent increase)

Break and enter — 2015: 897; 2014: 887 (1.1 per cent increase)

Auto theft — 2015: 370; 2014: 340 (8.8 per cent increase)

Theft over $5,000 — 2015: 96; 2014: 75 (28 per cent increase)

Theft under $5,000 — 2015: 3,347; 2014: 3,713 (9.9 per cent decrease)

Arson — 2015: 22; 2014: 17 (29 per cent increase)

Impaired driving — 2015: 457; 2014: 414 (10.4 per cent increase)

Fatal collisions — 2015: 6; 2014:12 (50 per cent decrease)

Property damage collisions — 2015: 7,723; 2014: 7,933 (2.6 per cent decrease)

Distracted driving, Highway Traffic Act — 2015: 4,170 charges

Halton police at a glance — Uniformed officers, 677; civilian employees, 292; annual budget, $134.8 million; cost of policing per capita, $248; Halton population, 543,577
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