Local businesses tackle crime

The rate of break and enters in the Yukon is double the national average, according to a recent Statistics Canada report.

The rate of break and enters in the Yukon is double the national average, according to a recent Statistics Canada report.

After a series of burglaries in late 2005, business leaders approached Justice to see what could be done about it.

On Wednesday, the Whitehorse Business Crime Prevention Strategy was presented to a small crowd at the visitor information centre.

The 11-page strategy took two years to complete and has three goals: to reduce crime opportunities, increase crime reporting and narrow the gap between the perception of crime and reality.

Crime Prevention Yukon was not involve in the creation of the strategy.

“(Crime Prevention Yukon) is pleased with any initiative to make our communities safer,” said its executive director, Ryn Bunicich on Thursday.

But the 11-page report is lacking, he said.

While it outlines “perceptions of crime activities,” there are not actual crime statistics in the report, said Bunicich.

“So, it is unclear to me, from looking at this strategy, what the crime problem in the downtown actually is.

“It’s difficult to target a problem if the real problem is not researched and defined.”

Bunicich is also disappointed the steering committee did not collaborate with Crime Prevention Yukon and other non-governmental organizations.

“I think they have been missing an opportunity there,” he said.

“But I’m hopeful that we will see the strategy used in the future to collaborate on a larger scale with our community to address this problem.”

It was fitting to release the strategy in the visitor information centre, said minister Elaine Taylor, filling in for Justice Minister Marianne Horne.

“Having a safe and secure community is really instrumental in being able to attract visitors.”

To reduce the chance of crime, increase reporting, and narrow the gap between the perception of crime and reality, strategy will incorporate existing crime prevention initiatives such as the anti-graffiti task force, and start some new initiatives, states the report.

“There was a feeling within the business community that if someone comes in and does harm to your business and the person gets caught, nothing’s going to happen to them,” said Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce president Rick Karp on Thursday.

“So there was a sense of frustration out there — a need.

“The whole development of the strategy is coming from the business community saying that we need to do something, we need a strategy.”

One initiative will teach businesses to prevent crime through environmental design.

“For a long time, crime prevention through social development was where a lot of the funding and programming was going,” said Justice’s crime prevention and policing director Lesley Carberry.

“That’s an approach that really goes after the root causes of crime.”

Crime prevention through environmental design is a more concrete approach, she said.

“You look at how your business is designed, how your parking is and how a city’s laid out.”

Planned seminars and workshops will encourage businesses to look at where their doors are, where their lighting is, and whether there’s garbage around the business.

Simple things like this can help reduce opportunities for crime, said Carberry.

A business can even prevent loitering by using something as simple as loud music outside of their store.

Another aspect of the strategy is changing the business community’s flawed perception of crime.

When the crime rates went down in the UK, for example, people actually thought crime was on the rise.