SASKATOON -- Saskatoon police are too slow to respond and are not sufficiently equipped to deal with rising crime and are falling short of creating a sense of community safety, according to consultations held with community associations last fall.

In October 2019, the Board of Police Commissioners held open consultations with more than 80 people from community associations and community groups, asking them to provide views and opinions about the city's police force.

In a report heading to the board next week, the number one response was that police response times are too slow and people are concerned there is insufficient police presence across the city to reduce crime levels and increase a sense of safety.

Those who attended the consultation also noted how gang activity is trending upwards in Saskatoon and people are pointing to gangs as the reason for increased criminal activity.

In response to this view, the Saskatoon Police Service said an additional 12 officers approved by the board and then by city council during the 2020 budget deliberations, "were intended to increase the availability of community policing resources. This will, in turn, better enable the police service to address rising gun and gang activity."

Members of the public also signalled a rise in drug abuse and drug addiction as a reason the city is seeing an increase in petty crimes and serious crimes. They also pointed to a lesser sense of community safety due to the rise in number of people living on the streets.

Prostitution and sex trafficking were also discussed as still being a serious problem in Saskatoon. While the board notes that prostitution is not a criminal offence, it recognizes that it can have a serious negative effect on neighbourhoods.

The report explains how "sex trafficking is a serious criminal offence and this is an example of an issue that needs police leadership and community support."

The board will review the results of this consultation at its next meeting on Jan. 23.