Numbers don’t lie.
West Shore RCMP statistics are showing a steady decline in police calls over the past three years, dropping from 18,613 in 2012 to 18,093 in 2014.
While numbers don’t tell the whole story, West Shore RCMP spokesperson Const. Alex Berube said the trend is generally positive.
“Calls for service are going down, which is always good news. It means the public is not seeking police assistance as much,” he said. “Now we need to break it down and (analyze) calls we have received compared to last year.”
Langford led the decline, dropping from 10,749 calls to 10,483. Colwood’s numbers fell by 122 over 2013, View Royal’s by 79 and Highlands by 28. Metchosin’s numbers actually rose from 764 to 822. Berube said the numbers don’t necessarily speak to an increase in crime.
Metchosin’s slight increase could be attributed to chronic runaways, some of whom moved into the district and could have missed a home-imposed curfew, he said. Guardians would be forced to generate a missing persons file even if the runaway returns that same evening.
“18,000 files does not mean 18,000 crimes (are) committed. (Calls) can be for anything from regular public assistance like having Fluffy the cat stuck in a tree … to a tree in a windstorm (falling) on the street where it creates a road hazard.”
Berube added the positive trend has also been affected by successful police work in apprehending repeat offenders who tend to drive the numbers up.
“Once we catch them, you put them in jail and then they are in; they can’t do any crimes,” he said. “That will play a significant role on a day-to-day basis.”
West Shore RCMP also covers Songhees First Nation, which increased slightly from 381 to 388 calls in 2014. Esquimalt First Nation fell from 143 to 109 calls over the same time period.
Type of requests vary
West Shore RCMP receives thousands of calls per year but Const. Alex Berube said some are a waste of police time, resources and taxpayers’ money.
Flagrant offenders from 2014 include a West Shore resident requesting police bring them a turkey dinner around Christmas and a complaint to police about taxi drivers refusing to fetch him liquor. Others include a grandmother who called to tell on her grandson for being “nosy,” a call against a three-year-old who refused to put on their seat belt, and numerous others complaining of power outages and water tanks blowing.