Gunfire and violent crime on the rise in Montreal, police report finds

The number of reported sexual assaults was 2,365 last year, an increase of almost 32 percent from 2020.

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Despite a nine percent increase in crimes against the person in 2021, Montreal is still safe compared to other North American cities, Mayor Valérie Plante’s police officer said Thursday.

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“I repeat that Montreal is safe,” said Alain Vaillancourt, the member of the executive committee responsible for public safety.

Speaking to reporters at City Hall, the councilor for Saint-Paul-Émard-Saint-Henri-Ouest said he was not surprised that Montreal’s 2021 Police Annual Report confirms the continued rise in violent crime, given the rise in gun crime across the country. world. continent.

The COVID-19 pandemic, easier access to firearms and the influence of social media also contribute to the problem, Vaillancourt added.

The 43-page report shows that crimes against people have increased by more than 17 percent from the average of the previous five years.

There were 36 homicides reported in Montreal in 2021, 11 more than in 2020. The 36 homicides represent a 39.5% increase from the five-year average. The total number of attempted murders was 139, eight more than in 2020. A total of 2,365 sexual assaults were reported, an increase of almost 32 percent from 2020.

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Firearms were involved in 19 of the murders last year and in 71 attempted murders. The total number of shooting offenses last year was 144, more than double the number recorded in 2020.

There were 516 crimes involving firearms, 79 more than in 2020.

Gunfire and violent crime on the rise in Montreal, police report finds

Vaillancourt, however, said Montreal police have been “very effective” in combating gun violence, pointing to about 20 raids two weeks ago that dismantled a large network of amphetamine trade and manufacturing in Montreal and other parts of Quebec.

“We know there is an increase in armed violence across North America,” he said. “For us, the report proves that the Service de Police de la ville de Montréal (SPVM) has done what it needs to do.”

The increase in sexual violence is partly due to increased reporting, he said, adding that the fact that more victims are coming forward “is good news in itself”.

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In Québec, 26 women were murdered in 2021, mostly in cases of intimate partner violence, the report said. The five women killed in domestic violence incidents in Montreal are responsible for 13.9 percent of the homicides. “The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the violence against its victims is undeniable and the need for urgent action remains a priority,” it said.

The report noted that there are currently 496 jobs in the Montreal Police Department – 377 for police officers and 119 for civilian employees. So while there are 6,313 positions in the police force, only 5,817 are currently filled by permanent staff.

Vaillancourt said the city is in the process of hiring an additional 250 police officers. However, he could not say whether the recruits will increase the force’s size or simply fill vacant positions.

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The city has also doubled funding for community organizations that help prevent youth from turning to crime, he noted.

Vaillancourt gave a thumbs up to the federal government’s new gun control legislation, which proposes to freeze the sale and import of handguns, calling it “a step in the right direction.”

Opposition critic Abdelhaq Sari wondered if the government read the same report he did.

“Every signal flashes red,” said Sari, councilor for Marie-Clarac in Montreal North. “This is an administration that is not even aware of the problem.”

He accused the city of not supporting the police, who police brothers say are plagued by departures and low morale.

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When asked if he thought violent crime would continue to increase, Sari replied, “I’m afraid. I am afraid for our city and for our youth.”

Montreal police seized a total of 628 firearms in 2021, 116 fewer than the previous year. Meanwhile, 331 weapons were voluntarily surrendered to the police, 10 more than in 2020.

While violent crime dominates the report, as it has made headlines for the past year, one of the biggest increases in crime in 2021 was car theft.

Once infamous as Canada’s capital of auto theft, Montreal saw that dubious reputation bolstered last year with 6,527 vehicle thefts reported to the police, compared to 4,789 in 2020, a 36.3 percent year-on-year increase and 43.9 percent. in the five-year average.

The Public Safety Committee will hold a public meeting on the report at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. It will be streamed live on its webpage.

People dealing with intimate partner violence can contact SOS Violence Husband 24 hours a day at 1-800-363-9010.

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