Calls for service to the RCMP increased by a whopping 47 per cent in the area where the Warmland shelter and Island Health’s Overdose Prevention Site are located during the first three months of 2022.
Insp. Chris Bear, head of the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment, told Duncan council at its meeting on May 2 that calls for service in other areas of the Trans-Canada Highway corridor had an increase of 16 per cent during the first quarter of the year, the Duncan/Village Green Mall area was up 13 per cent, while the downtown Duncan core saw a decrease of nine per cent.
Bear said the increased calls for service in those areas were mostly related to mischief complaints, the loss of enjoyment of property and shoplifting.
He said the RCMP are not sure if the increased calls for service near Warmland shelter and the OPS, and along the TCH corridor, had anything to do with the relocation of the OPS, that was operating on Trunk Road in downtown Duncan, to Island Health’s new Wellness and Recovery Centre which opened on York Road on Nov. 1, 2021.
Bear said the statistics will have to be analyzed before any conclusions can be drawn.
“We just can’t look at the numbers right now and say [crime] in the Warmland area has increased substantially,” he said.
“We have to see a trend because there could be a number of reasons for that. One of the reasons could be because of our bike unit that we staffed with two of our members. It was an important request that started our bike patrols again and they are working with the security officers in the area, so that could have driven up those numbers as well.”
In regards to an increase in shoplifting in the first three months of the year, Bear said this reflects the trend back to normalcy as the COVID-19 pandemic begins to wind down.
He said the number of complaints about shoplifters decreased during the pandemic as most stores had restrictions on the number of people allowed in at any given time, with many stationed security guards at the front of the businesses to ensure health protocols were being followed.
“That decreased shoplifting substantially,” he said.
Overall, Bear reported that during the first quarter of 2022, 4,650 calls for service were received in the detachment’s jurisdiction, which is a decrease of 2.3 per cent during the same period in 2021.