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Montreal sees spike in violent crimes in 2022: police report

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There has been a marked jump in the number of crimes against individuals on Montreal police territory between 2017 and last year, according to the service’s  2022 annual report released Friday.

“This crime category increased by nine per cent between 2021 and 2022, and by 21 per cent over the last five years,” explained Insp. David Shane during a press briefing.

Included in that category are homicides, which were 41 last year compared to 37 in 2021; and firearm infractions which numbered 563 in 2022 as opposed to 516 the previous year.

Reported hate crimes numbered 212 in 2022 versus 194 in 2021, with most having to do with ethnicity or skin colour.

According to Shane, the trend mirrors other jurisdictions in North America and could be a fallout of the pandemic.

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Property crimes also went up by 13 per cent in 2022 compared to the average for 2017 to 2021, after a dip during the pandemic lockdown. The vast majority were motor vehicle thefts which showed a huge jump. In 2022 there 9,583 stolen vehicles reported, up from 6,527 the year prior.

Shane said the spike in car thefts is being seen worldwide, largely due to supply chain issues and the shortage of new cars.

“Theft for resale on foreign markets has therefore become a much more attractive business for criminal networks,” he said.

The report suggests, however, that there are some encouraging signs.

Police brass note that despite the jump in crimes against individuals in 2022, the vast majority were simple assaults that resulted in little or no injury, and that the number of attempted murders last year dropped.

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Also, although guns were used in half the homicides in 2022, the number of crimes in which guns were discharged, fell.  Shane said that trend is continuing so for this year.

Alain Vaillancourt, the City of Montreal executive committee member responsible for public security, believes those reductions are steps in the right direction.

“It’s not a victory by any means,” he said, “but it’s an encouraging sign that shows that some of the things that we’ve put in place are helpful.”

Community groups admit that more police officers are needed, but are calling for more emphasis on prevention.

“(It’s) the social and economic indicators related to crime, related to violence, that we all should be talking about,” said Fo Niemi, head of the civil rights organization, Center for Research-Action on Race Relations.