Victoria Police are seeing new trends in light of COVID-19. (Black Press Media file photo)

Victoria Police see new trends in calls due to COVID-19

Police link jump in domestic, mental health calls to pandemic

The Victoria Police Department has noticed some changes in trends since COVID-19 came to the Island.

While there’s been an overall drop in calls, said Chief Const. Del Manak, there’s a spike in certain types of issues, including break-ins at closed downtown businesses.

In response, VicPD is trying to be more visible in the downtown area, both during the day and at night, and working with partners and the Downtown Victoria Business Association to up security.

VicPD has also seen a jump in mental health calls, something Manak suspects is linked with the pandemic.

“It could be attributed, though I can’t say for sure, to anxiety and fear in these uncertain times,” he said. “People are out of routine and people are not as social as before.”

ALSO READ: Isolation exemptions to frontline workers a danger to patients, say Island Health employees

Police are also seeing a jump in domestic calls linked to the virus.

“We have responded to more disputes where families are arguing regarding COVID-19,” he said. “For example, one family member is not taking the provincial health officer’s recommendations seriously in terms of social distancing and the other family member is frustrated.”

Since Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry banned gatherings larger than 50 people drop-in centres for the homeless and vulnerable have shut down, and shelters have added limitations to their beds, forcing people who are homeless to pour onto the streets, especially in the 900-block of Pandora Avenue.

So far Manak said it’s too early to say if the “explosion of tents” police are seeing is linked to an increase in crime in the area, though he’s aware that sometimes people living on the streets also fall prey to crime themselves.

One unique aspect police are seeing, however, is an uptick in fraud attempts.

“People are trying to be opportunistic and appeal to the good will of others, and now we’re just starting to see criminals adapt their strategies to try to get donations,” Manak said.

ALSO READ: Over 700 family doctors in Greater Victoria sign public letter pleading with people to stay home

He emphasized that if people get phone calls or emails from people asking for money to support COVID-19 efforts that they should ask questions, confirm who the person is speaking with and to not give out credit card information.

Presently, police do not have any excessive authority over group gatherings, but at any point the provincial health officer can issue a public health order allowing peace officers, such as police, bylaw officers, conservation officers and corrections officers, the power to discipline people partaking in larger gatherings or not adhering to social distancing.

“If that happens we’ll use discretion,” Manak said. “We wouldn’t want to target a family of four out for a walk, but rather people who are in clear defiance of the order.”

So far, however, he said most people understand the importance of social distancing on their own.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Like us on Facebook, send a Tweet to @NicoleCrescenzi
and follow us on Instagram

CoronavirusVicPDVictoria Police Department

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Shortage of foreign workers costs Saanich Peninsula berry farmer thousands

Gobind Farms says hiring local has been difficult during pandemic

Pedestrian, cycling overpass now open at McKenzie Interchange

Bridge connects Portage Road, Galloping Goose Regional Trail

Pandemic spurs egg-citement for backyard chickens in Greater Victoria

Fowl surge in popularity during COVID-19 pandemic

Saanich looks at allowing alcohol in parks after North Vancouver gives the green light

Bylaw allowing liquor in parks ‘a very positive idea,’ mayor says

Trudeau offers $14B to provinces for anti-COVID-19 efforts through rest of year

Making a difference in municipalities is a pricey proposition

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

‘Alarmed’: Health critic calls for more data on COVID-19 in trucking industry

Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec said that level of detail is not being collected

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

POLL: Are you sending your children back to school this month?

Classrooms looked decidedly different when students headed back to school for the… Continue reading

Most Read