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Violent crime and property crime in Squamish rise in 2023

Police say increase could be result of victims feeling more comfortable to report crimes.

Violent crime in Squamish has risen over the past year, but police say the increase could be a result of victims feeling more comfortable reporting crimes.

At the March 26 committee of the whole meeting, two Squamish RCMP members, Staff Sgt. Gareth Bradley and Sgt. Dallas Langley, presented an annual update about local crime to Squamish council members. 

Notably, both violent crime and property crime occurrences increased in 2023 compared with 2022. 

Violent crime

When discussing violent crime, Langley said the RCMP believes their collaborative work in town may be contributing to victims coming forward more often when crimes occur.

“Now, ultimately, these numbers might look bad. What I would say would definitely account for a lot of these is we spent a significant amount of efforts over the last year making sure that our officers have trauma-informed training practices to best support victims,” he said. 

“Additionally, we’ve worked collaboratively with a lot of partners in town, including places like PearlSpace, [Vancouver Coastal Health], Under One Roof, to determine how to best support victims so these people are actually willing to come and report these crimes to police.”

For comparison, the number of sexual assault occurrences has fluctuated over the last few years, with 34 in 2023, 23 in 2022, and 27 in 2021. Similarly, domestic violence occurrences fluctuated with 70 in 2023, 48 in 2022, and 58 in 2021.

However, the total number of assaults has shown an upward trend, with 235 occurrences in 2023 compared with 189 in 2022 and 184 in 2021. Total violent crime occurrences equal 509 in 2023, 412 in 2022, and 438 in 2021.

Property crime

While property crimes have increased in 2023 compared with 2022, there were fewer instances than in 2021. 

Langley said fraud increased “significantly,” with 177 instances in 2023 compared with 108 in 2022 and 132 in 2021. He attributed some of the increase to “much more elaborate” scams than in the past.

“Many of these offences included elderly persons as vulnerable victims,” he said. “What we’re looking to do with these circumstances is to engage our community response unit to provide education throughout the community.”

Bike thefts also showed an increase throughout the last couple of years, with 68 in 2023, 52 in 2022, and 48 thefts in 2021.

Mental health files

Generally, the overall mental health files in 2023 were down from 2022 and 2021.

Unlike last year's presentation, this year’s included statistics on files related to Under One Roof and calls to the area. Compared with 2022, both were significantly decreased, with related files dropping to 106 from 243 and location occurrences dropping to 130 from 245.

When asked about crime prevention, Langley said there would be a big focus on mental health support and working with partners alongside a focus on fraud and bike theft.

“We want to continue focusing efforts on the mental health piece and working with our partners because a lot of the statistics that we have, in some way or another, end up leading back to mental health issues in the community,” he said.

Road safety

In terms of road safety, overall collisions decreased in 2023 compared with both 2022 and 2021 but still topped over 300. There were 309 collisions in 2023, with 348 and 329 in 2022 and 2021.

General violation tickets took a significant drop over the three-year period, with only 276 in 2023 compared with 527 in 2021.

However, impaired driving has increased throughout the past few years, going to 218 in 2023 from 154 such instances in 2021. In April 2023, at council, Insp. Robert Dykstra speculated they could see a rise during 2023, as he said they had already seen quite a number of impaired driving instances at that time.

Looking ahead

Bradley told council that come April, the department will have six new RCMP members with under a year of service.

“It's good to have young eager people to come in,” he said.

Additionally, Langley said they will be getting body cameras within the near future. Alongside the cameras, Langley said transcription service and new video systems will be added to the detachment, which will take extra resources.

“It's going to cause a significant amount of extra disclosure that is going to have to be prepared and disseminated to crown prosecutors in almost any file that we attend to,” he said.

Bradley said the cameras would help with efficiencies in some areas, such as cutting down on extensive interviews as incidents will be recorded in the moment.

Note: The March 26, 2024, presentation to council only included 2022 and 2023 data. The Squamish Chief pulled statistics from the April 2023 presentation to council to include 2021 data. Some statistics between the two presentations for 2022 had changed and Staff Sgt. Gareth Bradley confirmed in an email to The Squamish Chief that sometimes there is a lag and adjustment of statistics by the records team, as they need to adhere to Statistics Canada standards. The Squamish Chief used the most up-to-date numbers.


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