A report from Sidney/North Saanich RCMP before Sidney council Monday shows total crimes in Sidney rose 16 per cent in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period last year. (Black Press Media File)

RCMP reports crime in Sidney rose 16 per cent during first quarter of 2020

Crimes against person including assaults and domestic violence up

Crime in Sidney has risen 16 per cent during first quarter of 2020 compared to the same time last year, according to an RCMP report.

The report also draws attention to the on-going issue of panhandling and homelessness.

According to the Sidney 2020 Q1 Statistical Summary, criminal code offences across major crime categories rose 16 per cent increase in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period last year, with crimes against persons rising 107 per cent over the same period of 2019.

“Within this category there was a 150 per cent, increase in assaults, a 67 per cent increase in domestic violence, and a 150 per cent increase in harassment,” it reads.

The report — which Staff-Sgt. Wayne Conley of Sidney/North Saanich RCMP is due to present — does not discuss the reasons behind the increase. But it notes among other points that the increase started from a “disproportionately low” point compared to the previous four years. Indeed, the absolute numbers appear relatively low. For example, a total of 15 cases account for the 107 per cent in violent crimes. It is also important to point out crimes against person account for 21 per cent of criminal code offences in the first quarter.

By comparison, the number of cases in the largest category of crimes — property crimes accounting for 51 per cent of all cases — dropped 13 per cent during the first quarter, with some sub-categories such as fraud, mischief, theft, and shoplifting recording large percentage, but small absolute increases.

Other criminal code offences accounting for 24 per cent of all cases trended up 39 per cent in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period last year. The report attributes this increase to a “substantial increase” in cause disturbance files, especially during the month of February. “This is reflective of the increase in persons coming into the community to panhandle and camp,” it reads.

During his last presentation before council earlier this year, Conley said the detachment will continue to monitor the homelessness situation in the area in suggesting that the issue is not necessarily local, with many homeless coming into the area from elsewhere.

RELATED: Sidney/North Saanich RCMP to monitor to local homelessness

The figures also show that the number of collisions rose by 62 per cent to 42 compared to the same period in 2019, with zero fatal collisions, five non-fatal injury collisions and 37 collisions involving damage. The number of impaired drivers removed from the road dropped by 10 per cent to nine, with police handing a total of 2676 violation tickets issued throughout the Sidney/North Saanich policing jurisdiction in the first quarter of 2020.

Contextually, Sidney, along with Central Saanich and North Saanich, remain among the safest communities anywhere in Canada, according to various metrics, including the recent violent crime severity index (CSI). Sidney (211th), Central Saanich (226th) and North Saanich (228th) rank near the very bottom of the index measuring dangerous crime across 237 Canadian communities.

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