The West Shore is growing and so is crime. Calls for service for the West Shore RCMP increased in 2015, growing by approximately five per cent over 2014. However, Langford Mayor Stew Young was complimentary of their work, saying the detachment is understaffed and could see more officers patrolling the community moving forward.
“I think the police are doing a good job,” he said. “I am happy it didn’t climb like it has in the past – and it’s a big credit to the RCMP.”
Statistics from the 2015 Annual Year End Report showed Langford posted the lowest increase among larger jurisdictions at one per cent, rising from 10,484 calls to 10,592. Esquimalt First Nation decreased 12 per cent to post the biggest drop.
The District of Highlands and the Songhees First Nation saw the steepest increases in police calls, rising 22 and 25 per cent, respectively. Colwood went from 3,143 to 3,503 calls, up 11 per cent; and rising about 10 per cent each were View Royal (from 2,611 to 2,884) and Metchosin (from 822 to 905).
Young said these increases are in part due to the growth in population. Despite seeing only a small increase in his municipality, he views it as an important challenge for the city.
“When we see increases in crime we (need to) attach the manpower to it. We need to have all the communities get together and give the support to the RCMP they need,” he said. “Generally you can’t look at it as we went up one per cent. We still need to add officers … We want to see crime reduced, not stay the same.”
West Shore RCMP is staffed by 65 sworn officers and 22 civilian staff members, aided by a compliment of 20 trained and experienced auxiliary constables, as well as 14 more actively proceeding through training. The detach-ment handled 19,077 calls for service in 2015.
Changes at West Shore RCMP included the creation a four-person Crime Reduction Unit in 2015, following the addition of four new members into the force. Two municipal employees were also added to the detachment to help with reporting, court evidence and documentation of the increased demand for police services.
Young hoped to see more officers added and said he will be meeting with all the municipalities in the West Shore and the RCMP to talk about those numbers.
When comparing statistics, police departments use a file count per 1,000 population and the West Shore sat at 26.1 files per 1,000, similar numbers to Saanich and Oak Bay which sat at 25.9 and 26.9, respectively. The highest number of files per population went to Victoria/Esquimalt at 39.8 per 1,000.
Some specific crimes saw increases in the West Shore, with manslaughter or first and second degree murder rising to two in 2015 from none in 2014. Sexual assault offences also increased from 27 in 2014 to 35 last year. Assaults fell from 274 to 240, while break and enter of a business rose from 39 to 84 for an increase of 83 per cent. Vehicle theft more than doubled from 50 in 2014 to 102 last year.