Crime in rural Westman trended down in August compared to the same time last year, but the cause of the drop isn’t entirely certain.
Calls for service in the West District for the Manitoba RCMP fell by 13 per cent between August 2020 and August 2021, according to the Manitoba RCMP. Calls sunk from 5,822 to 5,092 for the region, which includes Brandon.
One of the most significant drops was in crimes against people, which went down 26 per cent overall, including a 32 per cent drop in assaults.
RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Julie Courchaine said she speculates the cause of the decrease is pandemic-related.
"I think one of the things that we’ve noticed is with COVID there hasn’t been these large gatherings… When you don’t have these later gatherings, that does tend to keep our numbers a bit lower than normal," she said, adding the pandemic also cancelled large events where alcohol is served.
Crimes against property stayed relatively stable, dropping only one per cent overall, but break-and-enters decreased by 16 per cent.
"The COVID numbers were fairly good at the beginning of the summer, but as summer progressed we did see those numbers increase. I think people tend to stay home or we saw a lot more camping and family-oriented events," Courchaine said.
But a jump in the amount of fraud reported could also be influenced by the pandemic and the fact more people were at home, she said. The RCMP recorded a 15 per cent increase in fraud over the time period, from 52 to 60, which could be because more people were answering fraudulent phone calls and emails.
"I think fraud has been a big part of COVID, and they have taken advantage of that too," she said.
Drugs remain a persistent concern for police in rural Manitoba, Courchaine said, and is connected to property crime. Overall, there was a 22 per cent dip in drug-related crime.
Other regions of the province also saw a drop in crime numbers year-over-year with an average 11 per cent drop province-wide.
» Twitter: @DrewMay_