Assessing safety in the McMaster community Campus crime is at a five year high

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According to a report released by the crime analyst division of Hamilton Police, the McMaster community saw low levels of break and enter crimes in 2017. However, this does not reflect the campus crime scene, with a security services report highlighting that the university is seeing the highest number of reported crimes in five years.

The analyst division report notes that beat 1161, which includes the Westdale area, saw 33 break and enter crimes in 2015, 41 in 2016 and 30 in 2017. Beat 1162, which includes the McMaster campus, Ainslie Wood North, Ainslie Wood and Ainslie Wood West neighbourhoods, saw a total of 30 break and enter crimes in 2015, 19 in 2016 and only 14 in 2017.

Overall, the number of break and enter crimes in both beat 1161 and 1162 dropped between 2015 and 2017, with a total of 63 in 2015 dropping to 60 in 2016 and only 44 in 2017.

However, the McMaster Security Services report stipulates that the number of break and enter attempts on campus fluctuated over the last three years, with five recorded in 2015, 17 in 2016 and 11 in 2017.

The most common crimes being reported include mischief and theft, with the number of mischief cases increasing from 80 in 2015 to 100 in 2017 and the number of theft crimes climbing from 146 in 2015 to 258 this year.

“In 2017, McMaster University Security Services filed 3,687 incident reports which is an increase over the 2016 reported incidents of 2,834 (30 per cent increase). Legal infractions accounted for 870 incidents of either federal or provincial statutes or criminal incidents,” read part of the report.

The number of crimes reported on campus has increased over the last five years. While the assault rate was 19 in 2012 and 12 in 2015, in 2016, that rate climbed to 27 and sat at 29 in 2017. In addition, cases of sexual harassment increased from 22 in 2015 to 37 in 2017.

The most common crimes being reported include mischief and theft, with the number of mischief cases increasing from 80 in 2015 to 100 in 2017 and the number of theft crimes climbing from 146 in 2015 to 258 this year.

In an effort to make information about crimes on campus more accessible to the community, McMaster Security Services used to record crime beats on its website. These weekly updates included all incidents reported on campus, from serious crimes to students drinking excessively and getting trapped in elevators in residence.

“Our website is under a redesign phase so the most recent statistics are not included on that particular page. We do post the annual reports on the site,” said Glenn DeCaire, the university’s director of security and parking services.

According to the 2017 annual report, the number of crimes reported has increased from 300 in 2015 to 531 in 2017.

“Most of this increase stems from higher numbers of reported thefts from places like [David Braley Athletic Centre] and of bicycles and laptops across campus and we are encouraging reporting,” said DeCaire. “There are also increased reports of assaults and harassment which follow the introduction last year of enhanced reporting and awareness through the new Sexual Violence Policy and the Sexual Violence protocol.”

Overall, it is unclear whether more crimes are being committed, reported or both. Students are encouraged to report an incident to security services and access supports via the sexual violence response protocol.

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Author: Cassidy Bereskin

Cassidy is a first year Social Science student hoping to major in Political Science. She loves bubble tea, coffee, Hamilton (the musical AND our city) and reading through Twitter threads.