Calls for service from the Cowichan Valley’s RCMP continue to decline in 2021.
Insp. Chris Bear, head of the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment, reported to North Cowichan’s council recently that the first three months of the year saw a 7.4 per cent reduction in calls for service compared to the same time period in 2020.
He said 4,758 calls for service were received by the detachment in the first quarter of 2021, while 5,136 were received in the first three months of 2020.
The detachment had previously reported an overall 11 per cent decrease in calls for service in 2020 from 2019.
While Bear doesn’t give any reasons for the decline in calls for service in his report, it has been widely speculated that the social distancing and other health protocols related to the COVID-19 pandemic are likely one of the main causes.
Bear said the RCMP has seen significant decreases in most types of occurrences in the Valley in the first three months of this year, including crimes against persons, crimes against property, traffic offences and other criminal code and drug offences.
“It’s good to see arsons are down 64 per cent,” he said.
While the local RCMP detachment had seen decreases in calls related to most offences in 2020, there were some increases, including arson which saw a jump from 17 in 2019 to 49 last year.
In February, Bear reported there had been numerous complaints of small fires and arson during the last three months of 2020.
“More recently, there were suspicious fires at Drinkwater Elementary and École Mount Prevost in January,” Bear said at the time.
“After an extensive investigation, an individual has been arrested and the matter is before the courts.”
Bear said crimes against persons, which includes assaults, uttering threats, sex offences and harassment, totalled 254 in the first quarter of 2021, compared to 330 last year, which is a 23 per cent decrease.
He said crimes against property, which include arson, break-and-enters, possession of stolen property and shoplifting, totalled 611 in the first three month of the year, compared to 1,050 in 2021, which is a 42 per cent decrease.
But Bear said apprehensions of people under Section 28 of the Mental Health Act increased by a whopping 74 per cent in the Valley in the first three months of the year, with 146 apprehensions this year compared to 84 in 2020.
He said there were seven charges laid and 18 warnings issued in the Cowichan Valley due to COVID-19 related offences in the quarter, while there were 25 occurrences in which there was insufficient evidence to proceed with charges.
Bear said that 45 per cent of the calls for service that the 62 RCMP officers at the detachment responded to in the first quarter of 2021 were from North Cowichan, 25 per cent came from the City of Duncan, 14 per cent were from Cowichan Tribes’ lands, 10 per cent came from the Cowichan Valley Regional District, and six per cent were reported directly to the detachment.