Social media takes a bite out of crime on Canada Day in Victoria

Number of alcohol-related infractions down from last year

Victoria police traffic constables Neil Lundin

Though the numbers of people celebrating Canada Day in Victoria were up from 2011, police and transit officials say they responded to fewer incidents involving trouble.

More than 50,000 people crowded into downtown, up by 15,000 from last year. Police, however, had 200 calls for service on July 1, down by 63.

The Victoria Police Department made history on Canada Day as the first police agency in North America to use social media as a crime reporting tool.

During July 1 festivities, an officer monitored all tips and requests for non-emergency help posted on Twitter with the keyword #VicPDHelps, between 4 p.m. and midnight.

Officers responded to 12 Twitter calls for assistance and used information that came in from Twitter users to locate a missing 90-year-old man.

Social media also helped B.C. Transit officials nip trouble in the bud.

In one instance, a Victoria police officer passed on a social media tip to Transit media spokesperson Meribeth Burton indicating that a bus with unruly passengers was heading into Victoria from the Peninsula. Burton sent the Twitter message to B.C. Transit staff, who alerted Saanich police. The bus was stopped and the alcohol-related rowdiness was stamped out.

“We thought there was great co-operation between the police, the city and B.C. Transit,” Burton said.

Victoria police Const. Mike Russell also credited the decrease in Canada Day incidents to this team approach, “… and everyone really pushing for the same thing, to maintain it as a family friendly event.”

B.C. Transit faced fewer alcohol-related reported infractions on its buses this year.

About 100 containers of alcohol were seized and dumped on July 1, in keeping with B.C. Transit’s one-day alcohol ban on buses.

“Last year there were about 300 (seized bottles) at one (bus) stop,” Burton said, adding that 60 people opted not to show authorities the contents of their bags this year.

The region’s Integrated Road Safety Unit also saw a decline in the number of drunk drivers nabbed at checkpoints on July 1.

Three drivers who were checked were issued 90-day immediate roadside prohibitions for impaired driving.

Two people were arrested for drug possession and many more motorists were handed traffic tickets.

“The fact that these numbers are so low is great sign that people are finally getting the message that impaired driving is not tolerated in our communities,” said IRSU acting Sgt. Graeme LeBlanc.

emccracken@vicnews.com

By the numbers:

• Canada Day party-goers: 50,000

• Calls for police service: 200

• People who spent night in police cells: 63

• People arrested for public intoxication: 42

Just Posted

Victoria seniors want to know more about marijuana

Four presentations on the medical properties of cannabis for seniors come to Victoria

Rickter Scale: California Dreaming with Steve Shutt

The Rickter Scale is a weekly column in the Goldstream News Gazette

Victoria gears up to axe free parking on Sundays

Council vote puts Sunday parking fees towards bus passes for youth

Oak Bay one step closer to deer immunocontraceptive test

Up to 80 deer could be given ‘birth control’ vaccine in the fall

Students give two thumbs up to no more B.C. student loan interest

Eliminating the loan interest charges could say the average graduate $2,300 over 10 years

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of Feb. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Manitoba ‘pauses’ link with ex-B.C. premier Gordon Campbell after allegations

Campbell had been hired to review two major hydro projects

Nanaimo edges Royal Bay by one point to win Vancouver Island AAA girls basketball title

Nanaimo District Secondary School wins first AAA girls’ Island title in 29 years

City of Port Alberni cancels tourist train operations for 2019

Steam train to McLean Mill is out of commission for repairs; city wants to re-examine rail costs

Heritage minute features Japanese-Canadian baseball team, internment

The Vancouver Asahi baseball team won various championships across the Pacific Northwest

UPDATE: Woman, off-duty cop in critical condition after stabbing outside B.C. elementary school

The officer was interceding in an alleged assault when he and the woman were stabbed

$10-a-day child care not in 2019 budget, but advocate not irked

Sharon Gregson with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. says NDP on track to deliver promise

B.C. Seniors Advocate questions labour shortage in care homes

Are there really no workers, or are care aide wages too low?

Most Read