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

Police seek potential victims of bad ‘nanny’

Saanich Police seek potential victims of Johnathon Lee Robichaud from Central Saanich

Needles found at Goldstream campground in Langford

West Shore RCMP respond to several calls for service associated with homeless campers

Oak Bay firefighters help fund new Monterey playground

Sausage Fest cash handed over to Monterey PAC

Alcohol and drugs ruled out in serious crash that closed Sooke Rd last week

All three drivers taken to hospital have since been released

Only tent city residents allowed access at Goldstream Park campsites

Local RCMP point to reports of criminal activity and drug use in the area as cause for safety concerns

Neighbours fear impact of tent city residents on Goldstream Provincial Park

Langford residents opposed to campers voice concerns at campground gate

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

5 things to do this weekend in and around Greater Victoria

Sooke Apple Fest returns, Saanich lights up with lantern festival and anarchists unite for downtown book fair

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Most Read