Police strategies to reduce crime in Victoria have paid off, according to VicPD.
The police department’s three-year strategic plan was a success on its four core points and downtown businesses and citizens have taken note, said VicPD spokesperson Sgt. Grant Hamilton.
“We got a letter just recently saying downtown has never been better,” he said.
“We’re still going to have people who want additional presence and support, but the general feeling we’re getting from businesses, citizens and staff, they get the general feeling things have improved, and they have.”
According to VicPD stats, public disorder calls in the core dropped more than 26 per cent since 2008. That includes calls for disturbances, aggressive panhandling, public intoxication, public drug offences and complaints about sex trades.
VicPD also said youth crime decreased 11.5 per cent and serious crime dropped almost seven per cent in that same period.
While crime has noticeably improved downtown, conditions are not perfect, said Ken Kelly, general manager of the Downtown Victoria Business Association.
“I think that things are definitely looking up downtown,” Kelly said. “There is inquest sense among business owners that the various strategies that have been employed by various groups … are making a difference in what was a very significant problem downtown that you could encapsulate as street problems.”
He added, “there will always be room for improvement.”
Among police and the DVBA, one of the biggest successes is the Late Night Great Night task force, which spearheaded downtown projects including taxi stands, late-night food options and bar-close monitoring.
The strategic plan’s four goals were to reduce street disorder downtown, suppress violent crime, reduce property crime and improve employee retention.
“We had done a community survey back in ’07 and the community said (these are) our major concerns,” Hamilton said.
“We retasked our focused enforcement team (and) divided the city into mini-zones, so to speak, and identified the biggest concerns, the biggest issues.”
Hamilton said community liaison officers would continue to work with partners to follow up on the plan’s results.
By the numbers
Serious crime 2008 +11.5% 2009 -3% 2010 -6.2%
Drug arrests 2008 +4.6% 2009 -16% 2010 +10.2%
Public disorder 2008 -6% 2009 -17.9% 2010 -10.5%
Staff retention 2008 95.3% 2009 98.3% 2010 96.8%