Some British Columbians perceive more crime in their community: Poll

Since March, one-in-four residents of East Asian and South Asian descent have endured racial slurs or insults

ALMOST two-in-five British Columbians believe that delinquency has risen where they live, a new Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative provincial sample, 38% of British Columbians say the level of criminal activity in their community has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. A similar proportion (37%) report no change, while 13% think crime has decreased.

Men (49%) and Metro Vancouverites (47%)—as well as residents of East Asian and South Asian descent (55% and 50% respectively)—are more likely to claim that criminality has risen during the pandemic.

“More than half of British Columbians who voted for the BC Liberals in the 2017 provincial election (52%) believe crime has increased recently in their community,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “About a third of those who cast ballots for the BC New Democratic Party (NDP) (32%) and the BC Green Party (29%) concur with this assessment.”

When asked about specific law-breaking experiences since March, one-in-five British Columbians (20%) say someone attempted to extort them in an email or text message—a proportion that rises to 24% in Metro Vancouver.

Other instances of crime endured by the province’s residents include someone breaking into their workplace or office (16%), someone attempting to extort them by phone (also 16%), someone breaking into or stealing something from their car (15%) and someone breaking into or stealing something from their home (14%).

Across the province, 11% of residents say someone directed racial slurs or insults at them since March. While only 7% of residents of European descent acknowledge that this happened to them, the proportion rises to 24% among those of East Asian and South Asian descent.

There are some remarkable differences among specific groups. More than seven-in-ten residents of Vancouver Island (73%), Southern BC (79%) and Northern BC (92%) have not experienced any of these problems during the COVID-19 pandemic. The proportion is significantly lower in the Fraser Valley (55%) and Metro Vancouver (42%).

When asked about the factors that are to blame for the current situation regarding criminal activity in their communities, British Columbians primarily cite addiction and mental health issues (43%), gangs and the illegal drug trade (38%), poverty and inequality (36%) and an inadequate court system (32%).

Fewer British Columbians place “a great deal” of blame on lack of values and the improper education of youth (28%), bad economy and unemployment (28%), insufficient policing and lack of resources to combat crime (27%) and immigrants and minorities (19%).

Results are based on an online study conducted from May 8 to May 17. The margin of error is +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.