"It tells me that the concerns about drug use
downtown are absolutely right. That is probably
our biggest challenge right now," said Chief
It is the third year in a row the
number of charges laid in relation to cocaine
under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
have risen. That number has more than doubled
Police laid 546 drug charges in connection
with cocaine in 2006, compared to only 216
charges in 2004. In 2005, police laid 347
The police statistics also showed a
28-per-cent increase in the number of charges in
relation to marijuana, and a 78-per-cent
increase in relation to a broad category
labelled "other drugs." Overall, drug charges
were up 40 per cent last year.
Wendy Muckle, executive director of Ottawa
Inner City Health, said there's been a marked
increase in the number of people using crack in
the city over the last couple of years.
"We're seeing more use than we did
previously. It's been quite a noticeable rise,
and I think it's visible on our streets."
Her group is the main health care provider to
homeless and addicted people in the city, and
Ms. Muckle attributes the rise in crack use to a
change in tactics by dealers.
She said about 18 months ago, dealers reduced
the size of hits they sell and lowered the
"It's a volume business now," Ms. Muckle
said. "They sell smaller amounts for less and
because it's so cheap, people who didn't used to
use are using."
She said she also finds that lately she's
seeing more and more young people, particularly
women, caught in the throes of crack addiction.
"These are people 18 to early 20s, and you
see them on the streets for only a couple of
weeks and they look like hell," Ms. Muckle said.
"It's very concerning."
Chief White said crack cocaine, which sells
for around $5 a hit, is extremely profitable for
dealers. "It's an easy drug to sell. It's high
volume, with good profit margins," he said.
A day after releasing ward-by-ward crime
statistics that showed nearly 10- per-cent
increases in Criminal Code offences in the
city's two busiest wards, Rideau-Vanier and
Somerset, Chief White said past experience has
shown other criminal activity has also risen.
Overall, the number of Criminal Code offences
rose slightly in Ottawa last year, although
violent crime dropped seven per cent.
"It's a root cause of a lot of our other
crimes. If we deal with this drug issue, we
should be able to see a further decline in crime
statistics," he said, adding police intend to
maintain a high level of enforcement this year
to get the problem under control.