Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit January 27, 2016 - 2:30 pm

Uphill crime: arson fires, drug trafficking increase in Nunavut capital

Violent crimes down, others up, in 2015, RCMP reports

THOMAS ROHNER
Iqaluit Councillor Simon Nattaq poses questions to Nunavut RCMP Staff Sargent David Combden during a council meeting Jan. 26. (PHOTO BY THOMAS ROHNER)
Iqaluit Councillor Simon Nattaq poses questions to Nunavut RCMP Staff Sargent David Combden during a council meeting Jan. 26. (PHOTO BY THOMAS ROHNER)

Iqaluit residents reported far fewer break-ins in 2015 compared to 2014, but allegations of drug trafficking and mischief increased significantly over the same time period.

That’s according to statistics provided by Staff-Sergeant David Combden of the Nunavut RCMP, who presented the year-over-year comparison at a city council meeting Jan. 26.

“Overall, call volume was down as was violent crime — assaults, sexual assaults and threats,” Combden told the four councillors in attendance.

According to Combden’s numbers, Iqaluit RCMP responded to 44 per cent fewer calls involving residential break-ins.

But police also investigated 21 per cent more drug trafficking allegations in 2015 and 327 — or 17 per cent — more mischief allegations.

Coun. Gideonie Joamie asked Combden to explain the nearly 20-per-cent increase in prisoners held at the Iqaluit RCMP detachment in 2015, as compared to 2014.

According to police statistics, 427 more prisoners were held at the Iqaluit detachment in 2015.

“That’s closely connected with the number of prisoners at [the Baffin Correctional Centre],” Combden replied.

Coun. Simon Nattaq pointed out that the drug trafficking and drug possession numbers — which, combined, increased about 25 per cent in 2015 — don’t include Iqaluit’s bootleggers.

“We have to do something about the bootleggers, it’s like a business to them… People are scared of bootleggers, and don’t want to rat on them,” Nattaq said.

“I agree bootlegging is a big problem, and it’s hard for us to police,” Combden replied.

In part, that’s because bootlegging in Iqaluit involves a large network of people, the RCMP member explained.

Deputy Mayor Romeyn Stevenson told Combden that the number of calls RCMP dealt with involving arson was “unbelievable.”

According to Combden, Iqaluit saw 11 fires started by suspected arson in 2015 — up by two from 2014.

“Fires are a terrifying aspect of life in Iqaluit. And 11 is a huge number, in my opinion,” Stevenson said.

“I agree. That’s basically one per month,” Combden said.

The simplified statistics provided to council do not indicate how many charges or convictions resulted in calls received by Iqaluit police, Combden said.

Later this winter, Combden said RCMP will ask council for their input on an action plan Iqaluit police are developing to address community policing priorities.

“I look forward to having input on that plan,” Stevenson said.

 

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