Vanderhoof’s general assault and domestic violence cases in 2016 are down from the previous year, while the overall number of police calls have gone up in the community, according to the RCMP’s annual CompStat — short for computer statistics — results.
In the past year, number of assaults decreased by 25 per cent to 99 cases, and domestic violence cases — which are included in assault numbers — decreased by 42 per cent. In the North District, which covers all B.C. communities from 100 Mile House and northwards, violent crime dropped by 10 per cent.
In Vanderhoof, the drop can be attributed to strong community relationships built through the committee for Violence Against Women and Relations, which organizes regular meet-ups among agencies to ensure that women in situations are helped, and the Interagency Case Assessment team, which provides safety planning for victims to have a safe location, said detachment commander Sgt. Svend Nielsen.
A crime reduction program, introduced in Vanderhoof since the fall of 2015, targeted repeated offenders by officers actively enforcing curfews and managing court-ordered conditions, and the extra attention led to some completing rehabilitation programs quicker.
Recently, variance protocol is introduced for the police, probation officer, and crown counsel to allow victims of domestic events, if they desire, to vary court-ordered conditions of the assaultant. Through an interview with Victim Services, the individual can establish a case before the judge. The new procedure will be a strong tool to protect victims, provide safety, and improve participation in the court process. “We work really well together to mitigate people’s ability to re-offend,” Nielsen said.
Break-ins in homes up, businesses down
Residential break-ins and street thefts were on the spotlight this past year, while statistics showed the average monthly to be low, with most occurred during spring time.
On average, about two residential or commercial property crimes per month occurred in 2016, with numbers peaking in April/May and dropping down to zero or one in later months. Break-and-enters of businesses dropped from 29 to 23, and those involving residences increased from 12 to 23.
Thefts decreased from 31 to 25, and can be related to the local detachment’s new program this year in promoting security and reporting in shopfronts.
In the past year, the number of files in Vanderhoof increased four per cent from 2015 to about 4,000 cases in total — an increase that continued from the previous year as well. In the North District, the overall number of files dropped by about 5.5 per cent.
Vanderhoof has higher files than another similarly-sized detachment in the district as well, according to CompStat. For example, last December, it is measured that for every 1,000 people, twelve in Vanderhoof experienced a criminal code offence, whether or not the offence led to a charge, while in another community of similar population size, only five for every 1,000 people experienced an offence.
The higher numbers may mean busier work for Vanderhoof’s officers, but not necessarily more crime, as increased enforcement through initiatives such as the crime reduction program can lead to more files, Nielsen said.
Other good news
Impaired driving enforcment continued to rise this year, with local RCMP member Cst. Anthony Giroux added to the 2016 Alexa’s Team. To recognize police officers for their effort in keeping impaired drivers off the road, the program was started after May 2008, when four-year-old Alexa Middelaer was struck and killed by a drunk driver in Delta, B.C.
It’s the second year in a row that a Vanderhoof police officer was added to the Team. Cst. Justine Ramsey, responsible for 13 impaired driving offences, was part of the 2015 Alexa’s Team.
“We’re proud of the crime reduction program’s success and our members’ work,” Nielsen said, adding that the detachment has become part of the community through RCMP outreach in schools and community events such as Parade of Lights, and Canada Day.