REGINA -- The Regina Police Service has released its monthly crime statistics for April, painting a better picture of crime in the city during the COVID-19 pandemic.

April was the first full month where COVID-19 precautions were in place, and that’s reflected in some of the statistics.

According to the numbers, the city saw a 3.3 per cent decrease in crimes against people compared to this point last year, although other sexual crimes excluding sexual assault like sexual interference, sexual exploitation and sexually explicit materials did show an increase.

The number of murders is also significantly outpacing 2019 so far in 2020 with six this year compared to two by this point the previous year.

On the property crime side, the total numbers are down overall but arson incidents are up 72 per cent this year to date.

Elizabeth Popowich with RPS says a likely factor is a high number of bin fires and blazes at vacant properties.

"We've had a number of bin fires, which unfortunately it's pretty easy to set three or four fires in a short time but each one of those counts as an event," Popowich said. "We've also had some places where there has been two or three fires, typically a vacant residence."

Residential break and enters are down, but break-ins to businesses are up nearly 28 per cent.

This is potentially linked to people spending more time at home and less at workplaces and businesses, meaning there is less legitimate traffic to deter break-ins.

The number of traffic tickets handed out so far this year is down nearly 40 per cent. RPS says part of that is a number of officers were redeployed to front line emergency response and calls for service including some from the traffic division as a pandemic precaution.

"What we needed to do was work carefully with our resources knowing that if the outbreak of COVID-19 were worse than expected, that we would need to know we still had healthy people who could come to work,” said Popowich. “We did a lot of things to redeploy our resources over the last couple of months."

Another possible factor in the lower number of tickets is the lower number of drivers on the road in recent months.

Police also say as circumstances return to normal so will many of the officers who had been redeployed with a renewed focus on traffic coming soon.