Of the 15 murders in Toronto this year up to March 31, three have occurred within Scarborough, according to the Toronto Police Service.

Scarborough starts 2013 with lower homicide rate

But what this says about our safety is uncertain

Scarborough and North York’s homicide rates were the lowest in Toronto for the first three months of 2013, according to Toronto police statistics.

But what do these statistics really tell us about how safe these areas are?

The Observer spoke with Const. Tony Vella of the Toronto police to find out.

“It’s hard to give you an exact answer,” Vella said.

Only three out of 15 homicides occurred east of Victoria Park Avenue.

Statistics from the Toronto Star’s homicide map show that in 2011 and 2012, the Scarborough homicide rate was higher than in the rest of the city.

Scarborough makes up 23 per cent of Toronto’s population, but in 2012 nearly 26 per cent of homicides occurred in Scarborough. In 2011 it was 28 per cent.

Coun. Michael Thompson (Ward 27) and Coun. Norm Kelly (Ward 40) said the perception that Scarborough has high crime rates is unfair.

The negative reputation that Scarborough sometimes holds is “absolutely undeserved,” Kelly said.

“Crime happens all over the city,” Thompson said. “We don’t believe that (crime in Scarborough) is based on the water.”

As for the statistics, Thompson said, “They’re a snapshot.”

Vella agrees.

“I wouldn’t say Scarborough’s a bad area at all,” he said. “Like anything else in life, it’s a small group of people that cause the problems.”

Kelly, however, thinks the overall crime statistics show  Scarborough is safer than the rest of the city.

“They say a lot,” he said.  “Look at the facts, Toronto.”

Kelly suggested the part of the city known as the City of Toronto before amalgamation be renamed “Queen’s” with the media citing the name when a crime occurs.

“It wouldn’t take long for people to realize where most crime is occurring,” Kelly said.

After two high profile shootings in the summer of 2012, Toronto police introduced the Summer Safety Initiative (SSI), which concluded Sept. 9, 2012.

The SSI resulted in lower crime rates in all categories across Toronto.