Calls for police service are rising, but the local crime rate remains at an historic low.
Sgt. Jereme Leslie of Saanich Police said police received 30,883 calls in 2017 — up from 29,486 calls for service in 2016 and 28,576 calls in 2015, as reported in the police’s department strategic report for 2018-2022.
Looking at 2018 figures so far, Leslie said police have so far received 15,643 calls, with the proviso that this figure may not accurately represent current trend lines.
This said, this information confirms – at least partially – a prediction from the department’s strategic report. It predicts rising calls for services, after documenting increases through 2015 and 2016.
According to the report, calls for service decreased between 2006 and 2013. “However, we are now seeing an increase in the number of calls for service. This increase is consistent with trends in other jurisdiction,” it reads. “This trend is expected to continue.”
These findings, however, appear against the backdrop of historically low crimes rates.
Saanich, according to a 2017 survey, is among the safest communities in Canada. It ranks 181 out of 229 surveyed communities on the Crime Severity Index (CSI), a Statistics Canada measure of all police-reported crime, which takes into consideration both the volume and seriousness of offences. Saanich’s CSI in 2016 was 40 — down two points from 2015 and 30 points less than the national CSI in 2016 of of 70.
But if the overall number of crimes has dropped, Saanich police expect a qualitative change in crime, with demographics playing a major role.
While the number of households has grown over the last decade, so has the number of seniors, it reads.
“Currently in Saanich, 20.8 per cent of residents are over the age of 65. At 19 per cent, the percentage of youth aged 19 and younger in Saanich has declined slightly since 2011 when those under age 19 accounted for 20 per cent of the population,” it reads.
In short, seniors already outnumber youth in Saanich, and the report predicts that Saanich police will have to deal with a growing number of seniors-related crimes, including elder abuse.
“A growing population of older adults could impact the rate of elder abuse in Saanich,” it reads. “Addressing this will require focused resources to educate people on recognizing the signs of elder abuse, conducting investigations and referring victims to community resources.”
Saanich police also expects to serve a more diverse community.
“The percentage of Saanich residents who primarily speak a language other than English at home is increasing,” it reads. “This shift requires that Saanich Police invest in being able to provide culturally relevant and language-appropriate service.”