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Victoria mayor shares concern on stabbings, but says data not showing a spike

Knife-related incident numbers reflect trends of recent years, mayor and police say
Mayor Marianne Alto addresses the media on April 16 regarding a series of recent stabbings in Victoria. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)

Victoria’s mayor on Tuesday (April 16) said the number of stabbings as of late are not “terribly different” compared to the incident tally in recent years, but acknowledged concerns arising from them.

Mayor Marianne Alto expressed sympathy to the families of those affected by the recent assaults and said council has heard concerns about the incidents in the past couple of months.

“Victorians have expressed concern, we acknowledge that concern has legitimacy and we’re working to very hard to address the issues that underlie it,” she told reporters outside city hall.

Her comments came a day after the city marked its seventh stabbing since March 1, and the 20th since the beginning of the year. Two of the stabbings in recent weeks are being investigated as homicides.

Alto expressed confidence in Victoria police and said the department is doing a good job at both preventing and responding to incidents.

“The message that they’re delivering appropriately, I think, which we support, is that these are isolated incidents,” she said.

While alluding to police data that shows there hasn’t been a spike in knife-related assaults, the mayor said any incident is a cause for concern. She added this is the first year in the decade and a half she’s been on council that the city is allocating VicPD’s budget request in full, while also giving police additional money to provide more downtown foot patrols.

A VicPD officer collects evidence in one of three cordoned off sidewalks in downtown Victoria on the morning of April 15 following a stabbing. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)

The most recent stabbing occurred Monday on Douglas Street. One person was taken to hospital with serious, but non-life-threatening injuries. There haven’t yet been any arrests.

It came just five days after a fatal stabbing of a man, also on Douglas Street, in a shopping centre. No arrests have been made in that investigation either.

Following Monday’s stabbing, Victoria police said that although “the number and close frequency of recent stabbing events is concerning,” it’s not significantly higher than in previous years.

For the first quarter of 2024, there have been 20 reported assaults involving a knife, compared to 13 in the first quarter of 2023, 16 in 2022, 17 in 2021 and 18 in 2020. Police note that the statistics do not specifically mean stabbings, but just all assaults involving a knife.

READ MORE: 1 taken to hospital in downtown Victoria stabbing

READ MORE: Victoria stabbing leads to assault charge; police still investigating homicide

VicPD says officers have been conducting more patrols in the downtown core in recent months and “will continue this proactive work to ensure that Victoria continues to be a safe community.”

The mayor said the goal is to ensure residents and visitors feel safe and comfortable in the capital. She added the city is at the mid-point of developing a community safety and well-being plan, which is currently undergoing public engagement.

That process, spurred by Alto, will look to present a series recommendations to council in the fall around that the mayor said will profoundly change the way the city delivers safety services.

The mayor noted residents can also play a part in downtown safety by supporting the businesses in the economic core.