Alberta Drug Crimes Influenced By Oil Prices

The Edmonton Police Service has noted an increase in drug-related crimes as the price of oil has been dropping. This is a complex issue that affects not only our neighbours to the north in Edmonton, but those of us here in the Greater Calgary Area as well.

Over 60,000 new residents migrated to the Edmonton area in the past two years of the oil boom. According to an EPS report, this led to an increased demand for drugs in the area, and higher rates of drug crimes were witnessed.

Curiously, though, as oil prices have fallen, drug use and related crimes have not.

"When the economy is good you have an influx of people, so you have an increase in crime," said Shami Snahu, chairman of the Edmonton Police Commission. "When the economy is down people are looking at ways to pay for their lifestyles or competing for customers, and that also drives up violence and crime rates."

Essentially, though some have ascribed the rising crime rates in Edmonton and the surrounding areas to the lagging oil industry, there isn't a clear explanation for the observed crime rates. Some of the crime increase witnessed can be attributed to increased "crimes of necessity" brought about by sudden job losses, etc., but that doesn't explain all of the crime being witnessed.

Calgary has seen lower crime rates largely through its implementation of greater public outreach and community service efforts. These are harder to instigate during tough economic times, but almost always prove worthwhile.