Crime rates in Victoria are significantly higher than the provincial average, the Victoria Police Department reports.
In the VicPD 2019 Provisional Budget report to Victoria council, national statistics are compared to local numbers from 2013 to 2017.
During this time criminal code offences, excluding traffic offences, dropped provincially by .09 per cent, but rose in Victoria and Esquimalt by 8.9 per cent per capita, or 1,416 more crimes.
Property crime more than doubled the provincial average, which saw a rise of 5.7 per cent, while Victoria and Esquimalt saw a rise of 13.1 per cent per capita, or 1,110 more crimes.
Provincially, violent crimes dropped by 11.4 per cent, but rose locally by 11.8 per cent per capita or an additional 376 crimes over five years.
“The reason it’s higher is we don’t have a larger outlying area to offset those statistics,” said Chief Const. Del Manak. “Traditionally in policing, police departments responsible for the downtown core have higher crime rates than those that police the suburbs. You can look at Sannich, Oak Bay and Central Saanich to see that, because they don’t have an influx of visitors and workers.”
Manak also noted that since the Victoria Police Department serves the downtown area, individual officers have the highest caseload in all of the Capital Regional District.
“We have 65 per cent of all the liquor seats in the CRD,” Manak said. “That in itself is going to have a higher demand on police resources.”
Overall on the 2017 Crime Severity Index, which measures changes in the level of severity in crime in Canada from year to year, Victoria and Esquimalt outweighed Vancouver, Abbotsford and New Westminister, as well as local municipalities.
“I’m not trying to leave the impression that it’s unusually unsafe, because it’s not,” Manak said. “But it’s important to know that the Victoria Police Department is doing the lion’s share of police calls.”
Manak said that increases in local populations combined with changing police protocols that call for more paperwork in quicker turnaround times leave the department strapped for resources. Additionally, with all these changes, the Victoria Police Department hasn’t seen a staff increase in eight years.
“We can’t keep up with the demand, we’re falling behind,” Manak said. “The public has to understand the value of policing, it’s not just crime rates and calls to service … it’s a whole other cost that police bring, the perception of safety, which we’re falling behind on as well.”
As part of the provisional budget presentation, Manak has requested 12 additional staff members to help meet these needs. The request has been presented to the City of Victoria and will also be presented to the Township of Esquimalt before any decisions are made.
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