Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or in writing.

LETTER: Perceptions of crime may be accurate

Good governance and a thriving economy become extremely difficult to achieve when residents are preoccupied with crime and their personal safety.

There are reasons why Victoria residents perceive there’s an increase in crime, that are not addressed by the recent article ‘Why many Victoria residents may perceive an increase in crime.’

Headlines in the same Victoria News issue – ‘Man shot at Royal Jubilee last month, arrested at hospital for weapons possession’ and ‘Man arrested after allegedly chasing Victoria security guards while wielding knife’ – suggest there’s much more to the story.

The total volume of crimes remains substantial.

As a generalization, it’s true overall crime rates are relatively level over the last decade, and lower than two decades ago. That said, our population has increased dramatically over those periods, so the number of actual crimes remains troublesome.

There’s a different set of numbers presented in the document from Stats Canada for Victoria-Esquimalt. In recent years, the percentage change in the overall crime rate is escalating: In 2017, the crime rate was 10,431 per 100,000, moving to 11,145 in 2018, and 12,372 in 2019.

Residents, though, are understandably most concerned about their personal safety and severe crime, and less so by the crime rate, the measure chosen by the article.

Macleans Magazine recently ranked Victoria the 59th best community in Canada, largely due to high rankings on serious crime. Based on Statistics Canada data, the five-year average of the crime severity index puts Victoria-Esquimalt at 122nd in the country.

Crime rates for the province itself do nothing to soothe the perception of an increase in crime locally.

The provincial report Crime Statistics in British Columbia (2019) tells a more complete story, even though there are limitations to statistics since reporting rules changed the last couple of years.

In 2019, B.C.’s crime rate increased 17.3 per cent to 87.1 offences per 1,000 population. B.C.’s overall crime severity index and B.C.’s violent crime severity index are on an upward trajectory. There were 20,738 more violent offences reported by police in B.C. in 2019, with the largest increases in physical assaults, uttering threats, indecent or harassing phone calls, and sexual assaults.

In recent years, clearance rates – the number of crimes solved – have been dropping significantly. When less than half of violent crime is not solved, it’s a major issue.

All these measures of crime exclude the awful pandemic year of 2020. It’s been a time of unprecedented social upheaval, the lawless homeless camps in parks, the partial emptying and reduction of cells in provincial and federal jails to allow for COVID safety protocols, and the reluctance of courts to lock anyone up.

There have been a number of horrific high-profile crimes and violent random crimes impacting perceptions. As is often the case, much of the crime locally is driven by mental health issues and an opiate crisis and the result of inadequate support services.

When there’s a fractured governance system – five different police departments across the region – the failure of everyone to work on a common issue of crime concentrated in the downtown core area has consequences.

Residents may very well be accurate in perceiving a worrisome increase in crime.

Stan Bartlett


Just Posted

Flowers and candles were laid on the driveway of the Weber home, where Kerri Weber was found dead in November 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Langford man to stand trial for death of his wife last November

Ken Weber is charged with second-degree murder of his wife, Kerri Weber

Police dog Obi assisted in an arrest Tuesday night after a man reportedly damaged a Victoria restaurant with a large steel beam. (Courtesy of VicPD)
Police dog called in after Victoria restaurant damaged with steel beam

Suspect reportedly entered restaurant and started damaging walls

Police dog Hitch helped arrest a man who had reportedly threatened the security guards of a Victoria shopping centre with a knife on June 15. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Man with knife arrested after reportedly threatening Bay Centre security guards

The K9 unit’s police dog, Hitch, was deployed to assist with the arrest

GardenWorks nursery in Oak Bay at its home until August. (Black Press Media file photo)
GardenWorks puts down new roots in Oak Bay this summer

Nursery shifts down The Avenue to fill former fitness studio space

Saanich Volunteer Services Society volunteers head out to deliver this week’s meals to local seniors. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
VIDEO: Weekly meal deliveries help brighten the day for Saanich seniors

Seniors are delivered nutritional meals by a group of volunteers every Wednesday

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

The discovery of a missing woman’s body in Nanaimo earlier this month is now being treated as homicide, say Nanaimo RCMP. (File photo)
Discovery of woman’s body in downtown Nanaimo now being investigated as a homicide

Amy Watts was found dead near Albert Street and Victoria Crescent on June 3

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens as Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents the province’s latest budget, April 20, 2021. The budget projects $19 billion in deficits over three years. (Hansard TV)
B.C. government budget balloons, beyond COVID-19 response

Provincial payroll up 104,000 positions, $10 billion since 2017

Ocean debris is shown on Long Beach in Tofino, B.C. on April, 18, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Shoreline cleanup finds COVID-related trash increased during height of the pandemic

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup reports litter from single-use food packaging nearly doubled

Doctor David Vallejo and his fiancee Doctor Mavelin Bonilla hold photos of themselves working, as they kiss at their home in Quito, Ecuador, Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Doctor Vallejo and Doctor Bonilla suspended their wedding in order to tend to COVID-19 patients and in the process Vallejo got sick himself with the disease, ending up in an ICU for several days. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)
Love, sacrifice and surviving COVID-19: one couple’s story

COVID hits Ecuadorian doctors who delayed wedding to treat sick

The Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society, which has been operating a treatment centre on land leased from the Nanoose First Nation for 35 years (pictured), has begun a fundraising campaign to open a new centre near Duncan. (Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society photo)
New residential school healing centre to be built near Duncan

$5-million Indigenous treatment centre will help survivors of residential schools heal

Two Lotto Max tickets sold on Vancouver Island were winners, though nobody won the $70-million jackpot in Tuesday’s draw. (BCLC image)
Vancouver Island lottery players win $1 million and $500,000 in Lotto Max draw

$1 million ticket sold in Campbell River, $500,000 ticket sold in Nanaimo

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation to search residential school site for unmarked graves

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

Most Read