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

Gabriel Swift, 23, is one of three Victoria filmmakers chosen to receive $20,000 Telus Storyhive grants to produce Local Heroes documentaries. (Courtesy of Gabriel Swift)
Three Victoria filmmakers producing ‘local heroes’ documentaries with $20,000 grants

Telus Storyhive providing $20,000 to 40 Western Canada productions

Goldstream Food Bank president Gayle Ireland is the Goldstream Gazette’s 2021 Local Hero as Community Volunteer of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Two-week stint at Goldstream Food Bank turns into 35 years of volunteer service

Goldstream Food Bank’s Gayle Ireland is the 2021 Community Volunteer of the Year

Council has recommended that the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) approve a cannabis retail application by Buds Cannabis. It plans to open the store in the 9700-block of Second Street. It would be the business’ second outlet (it has an outlet in Central Saanich) and the second such business in Sidney. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney recommends approval of licence for second pot shop

Councillors also push back against public concerns about Sidney’s image

From right: Brad Cameron, BCEHS superintendent of patient care delivery for Greater Victoria, with primary care paramedics Em Funk, Tyrone Trotter, Fiona Galvin and Peter Hill at the Leigh Road station. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore paramedics didn’t waver when faced with COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. Emergency Health Services personnel are this year’s Courage and Bravery Award recipients

February is Black History Month. (Photo: Government of Canada)
Camosun College highlighting Black content with research guide during Black History Month

The collection includes a range of works by Black authors and creators

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives to view the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Death threats mount against Dr. Bonnie Henry, sparking condemnation from Horgan, Dix

Henry has become a staple on televisions in homes across British Columbia since January 2020

Most Read