Rural crime leaving residents feeling vulnerable and threatened

Underlying issues like drug addiction and mental health need focus

Residents of Drumheller-Stettler have become too familiar with rural crime. The reality is that these incidents occur frequently and leave residents feeling vulnerable and threatened.

United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney has called on the provincial and federal governments to take action against rural crime. The frequency of rural crime incidents has increased dramatically in recent years. The UCP caucus requested an emergency debate on the alarming rise in crime rates throughout rural communities in Alberta during the fall sitting of the legislature. Unfortunately, the NDP government chose to shut down that debate even when hundreds of victims of rural crime from across Alberta came to the Legislature to see a meaningful debate on the issue.

In an interview with a local radio station United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney said, “There are some indications that property crimes in rural Alberta have doubled or tripled in the last year or two. I’m told by police there are drug gangs coming in from British Columbia and they recruit people to commit these property offences. We’ve seen many farmers victims of serial property crimes, B&E’s are now turning into home invasions, and home invasions are turning into violent situations.”

Sharp increase in rural crimes combined with long police response times have contributed to the increase in rural crime. Albertans need a justice system that includes adequate policing, citizen-initiated crime prevention programs, and not a back-logged court system. The need for more prosecutors and judges to clear out the backlogs in the courts is another critical element that will prevent repeat offenders from victimizing rural Albertans. It would also be helpful if the federal government would bring back tough on crime laws implemented by the federal conservatives under the leadership of Stephen Harper.

Preventative measures can help get at the root of the problem of what motivates criminal activities. Underlying issues like drug addiction and mental health issues have become more prominent and contribute to the increase of rural crime in Alberta.

United Conservatives encourage Albertans to support and participate in Rural Crime Watch programs and Citizens on Patrol groups that act as eyes and ears for law enforcement. At the end of the day we all must accept that law enforcement cannot be everywhere at all times, any legal assistance we can give them contributes to a safer community.

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