The Vancouver Police Department says the violent crime rate during the first nine months of 2020 has held steady, despite the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.
Overall, there were 4,396 violent crimes reported from January to September of this year — down just one from the first nine months of 2019, according to a report prepared for Thursday’s Vancouver Police Board meeting.
By comparison, 2019’s violent crime rate for the same period was up 10.4 per cent over 2018.
Anti-Asian hate crime incidents increased by 138 per cent in the first nine months of this year. And intimate partner violence was almost five per cent higher over 2019, which Const. Tania Visintin said was the “highest recorded incidence of intimate partner violence.”
The number of murders rose to 14 in 2020 from nine during the same period last year. The most serious assaults — which includes aggravated assault, assault causing bodily harm, and assault with a weapon — have increased by 14.1 per cent over 2019, while assaults overall were up almost two per cent.
The good news in the report — sexual offences reported to police were down by 5.2 per cent over last year, while robberies were down by more than six per cent.
Assaults against police officers were up 47 per cent in 2020 over 2019.
“Over the past five years, assaults against police officers have increased 86 per cent,” Visintin said in news release.
Property crime was down by 20.2 per cent in the first nine months of 2020.
“The decrease is due to a substantial decrease in low-level, high-volume property crime. However, there is an increase in the most serious categories of property crime,” she said.
While theft from vehicles and shoplifting with both way down, break-and-enters to businesses increased by 17.8 per cent, arsons increased by 39.2 per cent, and fraud increased by 5.9 per cent.
The report also compared crime in specific neighbourhoods over the same time frame last year. Nineteen of 24 neighbourhoods across Vancouver have seen an increase in serious assaults, Visintin said.
“In the three-block radius around Strathcona Park, calls to police for street disorder have increased by 51 per cent. In Chinatown and Yaletown, they have increased by nine per cent,” she said.
“Vancouver Police continue to initiate and complete operational and investigative projects and allocate resourcing based on data and analytics and community feedback. VPD has increased the number of frontline patrol officers in some of the hardest-hit areas and trained more officers for bicycle patrols. Police have initiated major projects resulting in weapons and drug seizures and arrests.”
She said police believe that the pandemic is continuing to have an impact on crime numbers. “Because of COVID, many are limiting interactions, self-isolating, or working from home. This means there are fewer people out on the streets, less tourism, businesses and liquor establishments are closed, and less cars in parkades, which translates into less targets and victims for offenders,” Visintin said.