Crime is on the rise in White Rock, according to statistics in the detachment’s latest annual report.
But officials say graphs showing jumps last year in everything from impaired driving offences to crimes against individuals are more a reflection of increased efforts to tackle the problems than an increase in the problems themselves.
“Whenever you make something a priority, typically you do more proactive work and you will get more charges,” Staff Sgt. Lesli Roseberry said this week.
“If you see the graphs, we’re just way down, compared to neighbouring jurisdictions.”
According to the report – which was presented to the city’s mayor and council in a closed meeting earlier this month – White Rock saw increases in its overall crime rate, property crime, crimes against individuals, break-and-enters, impaired driving and marijuana production offences. One graph shows the latter has been on the rise since 2007.
Roseberry said she couldn’t comment on statistics from prior to her 2009 arrival in White Rock, but noted that tackling drug issues was one of the detachment’s priorities last year, along with impaired driving and property crime.
She credits a dip in the overall number of drug-offence files largely to the creation last year of a two-man plainclothes unit dedicated to the city’s more serious crimes.
In all, the detachment’s 22 officers responded to 6,961 calls in 2010. Of those, 1,437 involved Criminal Code offences ranging from sex assaults (9) and violence in relationships (30) to property crimes (995) and assault with a weapon/bodily harm (22).
Roseberry would not break down the nature of the sex assaults, but described the number reported in White Rock as “very, very low.” Such incidents can range from a complaint that was determined unfounded to one involving a husband and wife – both of which would not be brought to the public’s attention. Occurrences in which there is no threat to public safety or public assistance is not required are not made public, she said.
“These are general statistics to give people an idea of what goes on in the community.”
Roseberry said a statistic of more concern to her is the number of ‘dropped 911 calls’ her officers responded to last year – 1,048 in all. While the majority ended up being an unintentional dial, the calls can’t be ignored, she said.
“That takes up a lot of police time. But you don’t want to take the chance that… you weren’t there to help someone,” she said.
It’s an issue that also concerns Mayor Catherine Ferguson. She appealed to citizens to take more care to ensure their phone keypads are locked when not in use.
“I don’t know if people realize that when those calls are made, the RCMP have to go and check them out,” she said. “That’s a lot of resources.”
Regarding marijuana production, Ferguson believes a bylaw – much like that in place in Surrey – that enables the city to work with BC Hydro and fire crews to identify grow-ops would go a long way to reduce the problem. She hopes such a bylaw will be before council in the fall.
Ferguson commended efforts by Roseberry to increase police presence uptown and on the waterfront.
Overall, she and Roseberry said they are pleased with the picture the annual report paints of policing in the waterfront city.