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

Jada Benwell and Connor Larkey are the valedictorians of the 2021 graduating class at Parkland Secondary School. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Pandemic taught lessons in perseverance for North Saanich high schoolers

Parkland Secondary School to release 2021 grad ceremony video on June 25

The 14th annual Oak Bay Young Exceptional Star (YES) awards June 3. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay celebrates its Young Exceptional Stars with outdoor award ceremony

Nine young people recognized in 14th annual awards

A pub patio in Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Patio and picnic dining could mean a free meal for Greater Victoria patrons

Local celebrities pick up the tab with latest Greater Victoria chamber contest

Greater Victoria School District (SD61) Saturday announced a COVID-19 exposure at Oak Bay High School. (Black Press Media File).
Oak Bay High School subject of COVID-19 exposure

Greater Victoria School District (SD61) said possible exposure happened June 9-10

St. Andrew’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria bishop apologizes for church’s role in residential schools

Bishop Gary Gordon voices commitment to healing and reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Most Read