While property crimes and assaults were down in White Rock last year, police received an increased number of calls for service relating to criminal harassment and uttering threats.
White Rock RCMP released its 2020 annual report last week, which compares crime statistics to the previous year.
Last year, property crime decreased by 4.5 per cent, and assaults decreased by 10 per cent compared to 2019. During the same period, incidents of criminal harassment increased by 62 per cent, and complaints involving uttering threats increased by 69 per cent.
“I am pleased that the community has the confidence to call us when they feel threatened or harassed,” Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls told Peace Arch News via email. “In many of these incidents we educate, mediate, or initiate criminal proceeding depending on the nature of the report and the direction wanted by the victim.”
The increase in uttering threats and harassment calls were predominately associated to an increase in neighbour, landlord/tenant, and roommate incidents where a verbal threat was made or a series of harassing behaviours were reported.
The report notes that there is not enough information to conclude that COVID-19 stressors played a role in the increase of calls for service relating to harassment and threats.
However, COVID-19 did lead to an increased workload for officers.
City of White Rock Bylaw officers were the primary agency that conducted business checks and public health order education. However, RCMP officers responded to complaints after hours and on weekends.
The RCMP attended 92 calls with a COVID-19 component, undertook 14 investigations directly related to COVID-19 Related Measures Act (RMA) and seven Quarantine Act investigations.
“Education was the first step of any PHO contravention with enforcement action as a last resort. No COVID-19 RMA tickets were issued by the White Rock RCMP in 2020,” the report notes.
As far as the 10 per cent decrease in assault-based calls, Pauls said police are actively working towards increasing the reports received by police.
“Specifically sexual assaults and intimate partner violence,” Pauls said, adding that those crimes are “severely” under-reported across Canada.
“An increase in reports won’t be indicative of an increase in actual incidents, an increase in reports is a sign of the confidence that victims have in seeking the support of police and of their confidence in the justice system,” Pauls said.
“I want to ensure that victims know we are here to provide support on crimes that impact us all directly and indirectly.”
In total, police in White Rock responded to 6,905 calls for service in 2020. Among those calls, abandoned 911 calls or false-alarm calls counted for 1,128.
Other frequent calls to 911 included disturbances (519), suspicious person/trespassing (415), bylaw complaints (411) and well-being checks (396).
The most common property-crime offences included theft from vehicle (185), mischief to property (161), and theft of items such as wallets, phones, licence plates (101).
There were 39 residential break-and-enters and 12 commercial break-and-enters.
During the year, White Rock RCMP was involved in 2,006 police-motorist interactions that resulted in a violation ticket, notice and order, written warning, or other Motor Vehicle Act document. The 2,006 interactions were not counted as calls for service.