Crime down in North Saanich

First quarter of 2014 indicates slight decline in stats but a jump in tickets

Crime statistics from the RCMP in North Saanich  show a slight decline in incidents requiring police, says Staff Sergeant Dennis O’Gorman.

The detachment commander of the Sidney North Saanich RCMP presented his first quarter report to North Saanich council on May 26. Other than a small jump in fraud and property damage files, other crime in the community is down over the same time frame in 2013. Those numbers hold true for both North Saanich and the Town of Sidney.

“We have had a few serious incidents, such as a bank robbery and some domestic disputes,” he said. “But there is no real trend or spike in the numbers in much of anything.

“Crime trends have been level this quarter over the same quarter in 2013.”

The detachment’s focus this year, O’Gorman continued, includes fraud prevention and education. In the first three months of this year, there have been five reported cases of fraud — compared with only one during the same time last year.

The only significant jump in the first quarter statistics was in traffic collisions causing property damage over $1,000 — 22 cases in North Saanich compared with 14 last year. In Sidney, there were 15 cases and only 13 in 2013.

“I find we are really well-served by the RCMP in this community,” said Councillor Ted Daly.

Coun. Elsie McMurphy asked O’Gorman about the RCMP’s role in the regional crime unit of Greater Victoria which has seen member municipalities drop out, putting its future into question.

“Sidney and North Saanich were the first municipalities to critically look at it,” O’Gorman said. “They looked at the number of files in this area and the effectiveness of the unit in this area. The decision was made some time ago to withdraw.”

He added a fear over the loss of the unit is the potential for a gap in an investigation, such as in prolific offenders to cross local municipal boundaries. To address that, O’Gorman said the Town of Sidney agreed to get another officer faster than usual to help form a local, two-member prolific offender unit.

Police statistics in 2014 have seen an increase in the number of traffic tickets issued. Drivers have received 597 tickets in the first three months of 2014 in North Saanich, compared with 464 in 2013. In Sidney, there were 586 tickets written, compared with 306 last year. O’Gorman reported traffic remains a big focus of the detachment. In one weekend earlier this year, he said officers wrote more than 100 tickets on local roads in Sidney and North Saanich. Those range from seat belt infractions to distracted driving.

“Our officers write a lot of tickets. For a community this size, we write the most tickets between our two traffic officers.”

Other areas of emphasis for the police include property theft, community relations, organized crime (drugs) and leadership development. Marinas are a focus, said O’Gorman, noting there has been an increase in incidents there. He said police are working with marina owners on educating their users and on implementing security plans.

Crime stats in the area’s four First Nations communities are also down by six files overall. O’Gorman said the detachment is seeing a drop in reported crime and a decline in violent incidents.