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Perceptions of rising crime in B.C. have ‘worsened’ over the years: poll

Addiction and mental health are the main factors for crime in local communities

More than half of British Columbians feel crime is on the rise, according to a new Research Co. poll.

Almost 60 per cent of the 800 people surveyed in May said the level of crime in their communities has increased over the past four years – eight percentage points higher than a similar poll conducted by Research Co. in July 2022.

Eighteen per cent of British Columbians say they have been victims of a crime in their own communities, such as an assault or car break-in, and 52 per cent say they fear becoming victims of any crime, a number that rises to 72 per cent among those aged 18-34.

“The perceptions of British Columbians on criminal activity have worsened every year since we started asking these questions in 2018,” said Research Co. president Mario Canseco.

Thirty-six per cent of British Columbians say they would feel unsafe walking alone in their own neighbourhood after dark, and the percentage rises to 45 and 47 per cent for northern B.C. and the Fraser Valley, respectively.

Addiction and mental health issues, as well as gangs and the illegal drug trade, are the main factors British Columbians mention when it comes to the current perception of public safety in the province, with 59 and 41 per cent respectively.

Other factors include an inadequate court system, poverty and equality, and lack of values and improper education for youth, with more than 33 per cent of British Columbians mentioning these issues.

Over half of the respondents surveyed now support establishing a provincewide police force, going from 39 per cent in June 2022 to 51 per cent in May 2023. More than half of residents of Metro Vancouver and northern B.C. are also in favour of a provincewide police force to help combat crime in their communities.

According to the Statistics Canada crime stats, there were 626 more violent offences reported by police in B.C. in 2021, almost one per cent higher than 2020. B.C.’s violent Crime Severity Index for 2021 was over four per cent higher than 2020, and there were 125 more homicides, as well, or a roughly 24 per cent increase from the previous year.

Crime statistics for 2022 have yet to be released.

READ MORE: Mental-health services come too late, B.C. experts say, after uptick in violence

About the Author: Alexander Vaz, Local Journalism Initiative

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