Demonstrators rally against anti-Asian racism during an event at the B.C. legislature on March 28. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)

Demonstrators rally against anti-Asian racism during an event at the B.C. legislature on March 28. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)

Police-reported hate crime dropped in Victoria in 2019

Police reported 17 hate crimes — or 4.2 per 100,000 population — in Victoria CMA in 2019

Police-reported hate crimes in the Victoria Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) dropped in 2019, but remained higher than in 2017.

Police reported 17 hate crimes — or 4.2 per 100,000 population — in Victoria CMA in 2019, a drop from 2018 when police recorded 25 — or 6.3 per 100,000 population. Police reported 10 hate crimes in 2017 — or 2.6 per 100,000 population.

The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey defines police-reported hate crime as a criminal violation against a person or property motivated by hate, based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, or any other similar factor. Police classify hate crimes by the perception of the accused, not the victim. For example, police will consider assaults with anti-Muslim rhetoric anti-Muslim hate crimes regardless of whether their victims are Muslim.

The figures for 2019 mean that Victoria CMA has a lower reported hate-crime rate per population (4.2) than Canada (5.2), placing Victoria in the lower third of Canada’s CMA. They also mean that Victoria CMA is bucking the national trend as Canadian police in 2019 reported 1,946 criminal incidents fitting the definition of police-reported hate crimes, an increase of seven per cent compared to 2018.

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These local figures require additional context. Police data on hate-motivated crimes include only incidents that attracted the attention of police. By comparison, Canadians in 2014 self-reported 330,000 criminal incidents, which they perceived being motivated by hate, some five per cent of all self-reported incidents 12 months prior to survey. That year recorded 1,295 police-reported hate crimes.

The numbers of police-reported hate crimes also depend on what Statistics Canada calls “level of expertise in identifying crimes motivated by hate.”

Finally, hate crimes against Indigenous peoples (which account for 4.8 per cent of Victoria CMA population in 2016 of 357,690) continue to account for relatively few police-reported hate crimes, a phenomenon likely related to the historically poor relations between police services and Indigenous peoples stemming for a history of colonization (including the residential school system) and forced relocation.

As Statistics Canada says, “(feelings) of safety and public perceptions of institutions like the police and the criminal justice system can impact the willingness of particular communities to report incidents to the police.”

Overall, police-reported hate crimes accounted for less than 0.1 per cent of the over 2.2 million police-reported crimes in 2019 not counting traffic offences, but draw attention by their nature.

Current circumstances such as the rise of anti-Asian sentiments against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic have only amplified them and figures — be the local or national — may not capture the full extent of the problem.


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wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com