Social media takes a bite out of crime on Canada Day in Victoria

Number of alcohol-related infractions down from last year

Victoria police traffic constables Neil Lundin

Though the numbers of people celebrating Canada Day in Victoria were up from 2011, police and transit officials say they responded to fewer incidents involving trouble.

More than 50,000 people crowded into downtown, up by 15,000 from last year. Police, however, had 200 calls for service on July 1, down by 63.

The Victoria Police Department made history on Canada Day as the first police agency in North America to use social media as a crime reporting tool.

During July 1 festivities, an officer monitored all tips and requests for non-emergency help posted on Twitter with the keyword #VicPDHelps, between 4 p.m. and midnight.

Officers responded to 12 Twitter calls for assistance and used information that came in from Twitter users to locate a missing 90-year-old man.

Social media also helped B.C. Transit officials nip trouble in the bud.

In one instance, a Victoria police officer passed on a social media tip to Transit media spokesperson Meribeth Burton indicating that a bus with unruly passengers was heading into Victoria from the Peninsula. Burton sent the Twitter message to B.C. Transit staff, who alerted Saanich police. The bus was stopped and the alcohol-related rowdiness was stamped out.

“We thought there was great co-operation between the police, the city and B.C. Transit,” Burton said.

Victoria police Const. Mike Russell also credited the decrease in Canada Day incidents to this team approach, “… and everyone really pushing for the same thing, to maintain it as a family friendly event.”

B.C. Transit faced fewer alcohol-related reported infractions on its buses this year.

About 100 containers of alcohol were seized and dumped on July 1, in keeping with B.C. Transit’s one-day alcohol ban on buses.

“Last year there were about 300 (seized bottles) at one (bus) stop,” Burton said, adding that 60 people opted not to show authorities the contents of their bags this year.

The region’s Integrated Road Safety Unit also saw a decline in the number of drunk drivers nabbed at checkpoints on July 1.

Three drivers who were checked were issued 90-day immediate roadside prohibitions for impaired driving.

Two people were arrested for drug possession and many more motorists were handed traffic tickets.

“The fact that these numbers are so low is great sign that people are finally getting the message that impaired driving is not tolerated in our communities,” said IRSU acting Sgt. Graeme LeBlanc.

emccracken@vicnews.com

By the numbers:

• Canada Day party-goers: 50,000

• Calls for police service: 200

• People who spent night in police cells: 63

• People arrested for public intoxication: 42

Just Posted

Greater Victoria teachers experienced more than 30 incidents of violence from students in one month

Shuttered behavioural programs, lack of resources creates challenges for local schools

Canadian alcohol policy gets failing grade from UVic researchers

Canadian provinces and territories collectively achieved less than half of their potential to reduce alcohol related harm

Esquimalt High robotics team heads to international competition

The Esquimalt Atom Smashers will participate in the FIRST Robotics Canada competition

Island playoffs underway at Oak Bay High

Home team vies for fifth straight Island title

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

POLL: Will you be wearing pink to take a stand against bullying

Schools and workplaces across Greater Victoria and around the province will be… Continue reading

Galchenyuk scores in OT as Coyotes edge Canucks 3-2

Vancouver manages single point as NHL playoff chase continues

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

UPDATE: Man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside B.C. elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Federal fisheries minister calls for precautionary approach to fish farming

Government still reviewing Federal Court’s decision on PRV – Wilkinson

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

Most Read