Youth crime frequency and severity drops across the North, especially in N.W.T. – North

There are fewer youth being charged with crimes in the Northwest Territories, according to recent Statistics Canada data.

Over the period of a decade, the N.W.T. saw a 66 per cent drop in the number of youth (aged 12-17) being charged with crimes — from nearly 600 youth in 2006, to just under 200 in 2016, according to the most recent data.

Charges can include anything from traffic violations to attempted murder.

Yukon and Nunavut have also seen a decline in the number of youth being charged by police over the same period.

According to the data released Monday, the youth crime severity index — which tracks changes in frequency and seriousness of crimes — also decreased across the North.

The N.W.T. saw the highest decrease, with a drop of close to 50 per cent since 2006.

But nationally, the severity and frequency of violent crimes has increased for two years in a row since 2014.

While the N.W.T. saw the biggest drop in the severity of violent crimes in Canada since 2015, Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Yukon drove up the national average.

More youth from these regions were accused of more weightier crimes like attempted murder, robbery and sexual violations against children, according to the report.

Despite the declines in the crime severity numbers in the North, the highest overall crime rates per capita still remain in the territories — far above the national average.

More youth support or just a cycle?

The downward trend since 2006 may be thanks to more services and programs for young people, says a youth worker in Yellowknife.

“Youth are very resilient,” said Iris Hamlyn, executive director of the SideDoor, a youth centre that offers programs to divert youth from crime. Many youth programs in Yellowknife have developed over the past few years, she said.

Hamlyn says there are more youth programs and services in Yellowknife, which may have helped many youth stay away from crime. (CBC)

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