Number of homicides and most serious assaults in Vancouver higher than last year: Report

VANCOUVER Police on Tuesday released a new report with crime statistics for the first nine months of the year. The report compares January to September 2020 to the same time period in 2019.

Violent crime levels for 2020 are similar to 2019. In 2019, there was a 10.4 per cent increase in violent crime during the same reporting period when compared to the previous year. An analysis of 2020 violent crime incidents shows that:

· the number of homicides is higher than last year – 14 in 2020 versus nine in 2019;

· the most serious assaults – assault with a weapon, assault causing bodily harm and aggravated assault –  have increased by 14.1 per cent over the previous year, while all assaults increased by nearly two per cent;

· intimate partner violence is 4.6 per cent higher than 2019 (all-time highest recorded incidence of intimate partner violence);

·  anti-Asian hate crime incidents have increased by 138 per cent;

· sexual offences reported to police have decreased by 5.2 per cent;

· robberies have decreased by 6.1 per cent; and

· assaults against police officers have gone up 47 per cent, and over the past five years, assaults against police officers have increased 86 per cent.

Property crime is down by 20.2 per cent in 2020. The decrease is due to a substantial decrease in low-level, high-volume property crime. However, there is an increase in the most serious categories of property crime. The analysis of 2020 property crime incidents shows that:

· theft from vehicles has decreased by 37 per cent;

· theft (e.g., shoplifting) decreased by 26.6 per cent;

· break-and-enters to businesses increased by 17.8 per cent;

· arson incidents increased by 39.2 per cent; and

· fraud increased by 5.9 per cent.

The report also takes a look at crime in specific neighbourhoods over the same time frame. Nineteen of 24 neighborhoods across Vancouver have seen an increase in serious assaults. In the three-block radius around Strathcona Park, calls to police for street disorder have increased by 51 per cent. In Chinatown and Yaletown, they have increased by nine per cent.

Vancouver Police continue to initiate and complete operational and investigative projects and allocate resourcing based on data and analytics and community feedback. The Vancouver Police Department has increased the number of frontline patrol officers in some of the hardest hit areas and trained more officers for bicycle patrols. Police have initiated major projects resulting in weapons and drug seizures and arrests.

Police believe that the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to have an impact on crime numbers. Because of COVID, many are limiting interactions, self-isolating or working from home. This means there are fewer people out on the streets, less tourism, businesses and liquor establishments closed, and less cars in parkades, which translates into less targets and victims for offenders.

The VPD presents crime statistics to the Vancouver Police Board every quarter. The report will be reviewed by the board at its regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday.