Victoria Police are seeing new trends in light of COVID-19. (Black Press Media file photo)

Victoria Police are seeing new trends in light of COVID-19. (Black Press Media file photo)

Victoria Police see new trends in calls due to COVID-19

Police link jump in domestic, mental health calls to pandemic

The Victoria Police Department has noticed some changes in trends since COVID-19 came to the Island.

While there’s been an overall drop in calls, said Chief Const. Del Manak, there’s a spike in certain types of issues, including break-ins at closed downtown businesses.

In response, VicPD is trying to be more visible in the downtown area, both during the day and at night, and working with partners and the Downtown Victoria Business Association to up security.

VicPD has also seen a jump in mental health calls, something Manak suspects is linked with the pandemic.

“It could be attributed, though I can’t say for sure, to anxiety and fear in these uncertain times,” he said. “People are out of routine and people are not as social as before.”

ALSO READ: Isolation exemptions to frontline workers a danger to patients, say Island Health employees

Police are also seeing a jump in domestic calls linked to the virus.

“We have responded to more disputes where families are arguing regarding COVID-19,” he said. “For example, one family member is not taking the provincial health officer’s recommendations seriously in terms of social distancing and the other family member is frustrated.”

Since Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry banned gatherings larger than 50 people drop-in centres for the homeless and vulnerable have shut down, and shelters have added limitations to their beds, forcing people who are homeless to pour onto the streets, especially in the 900-block of Pandora Avenue.

So far Manak said it’s too early to say if the “explosion of tents” police are seeing is linked to an increase in crime in the area, though he’s aware that sometimes people living on the streets also fall prey to crime themselves.

One unique aspect police are seeing, however, is an uptick in fraud attempts.

“People are trying to be opportunistic and appeal to the good will of others, and now we’re just starting to see criminals adapt their strategies to try to get donations,” Manak said.

ALSO READ: Over 700 family doctors in Greater Victoria sign public letter pleading with people to stay home

He emphasized that if people get phone calls or emails from people asking for money to support COVID-19 efforts that they should ask questions, confirm who the person is speaking with and to not give out credit card information.

Presently, police do not have any excessive authority over group gatherings, but at any point the provincial health officer can issue a public health order allowing peace officers, such as police, bylaw officers, conservation officers and corrections officers, the power to discipline people partaking in larger gatherings or not adhering to social distancing.

“If that happens we’ll use discretion,” Manak said. “We wouldn’t want to target a family of four out for a walk, but rather people who are in clear defiance of the order.”

So far, however, he said most people understand the importance of social distancing on their own.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Like us on Facebook, send a Tweet to @NicoleCrescenzi
and follow us on Instagram

CoronavirusVicPDVictoria Police Department

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The public will start to weigh in next month on the possible future uses of Oak Bay Lodge. In the meantime, a request to the province by the City of Victoria to intervene and allow use of at least a portion of the closed facility as temporary shelter space awaits an answer. (Black Press Media file photo)
Oak Bay Lodge redevelopment planning continues, request for temporary use awaits answer

Public consultation on future of CRD-owned site begins next month

Volunteer Anette Akouri is part of a vital service that connects clients to help them be less vulernable. (Saanich Volunteer Services Society)
Saanich volunteers up the friendship calls, grocery deliveries during pandemic

Saanich Volunteer Services Society helping vulnerable residents stay happy, healthy

Island Health has reported a COVID-19 outbreak at Saanich Peninsula Hospital. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Four new COVID-19 cases added to Saanich Peninsula Hospital outbreak

Inital round of patient testing is complete, staff testing continues

A rendering of Victoria Wonderland, a drive-thru immersive holiday experience that has been cancelled due to COVID-19. (Courtesy of Transcend Victoria)
Victoria Wonderland drive-thru show cancelled due to COVID-19

Organizers hope to host a similar event, if restrictions allow, in the new year

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

(AP Photo/Paula Bronstein)
POLL: Has COVID-19 changed your plans for the holidays?

The lights are going up, the stacks of presents under the tree… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 1

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Watch Messiah at home with the Sooke Philharmonic

Concert available to stream Dec. 12

Emergency crews used a backhoe loader to clear fire debris from the scene of a fire on Wesley Street Thursday as police and firefighters gathered up propane tanks, stoves and fireplaces used by camp residents to heat tents. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
City of Nanaimo dismantles downtown homeless encampment after fire

Four to six tents burned up in Wesley Street fire Thursday, Dec. 3

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

BC Ambulance Services reassures people that the service is well staffed and ready to respond. Photo by Don Bodger
BC Ambulance assures the Island community they’re ‘fully staffed’

‘Paramedics are not limited to a geographical area.’ — BCEHS

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

Most Read