Decreased police-reported numbers of property crimes and sexual assaults are consistent with COVID-19 pandemic impacts and related stay-at-home orders and social distancing, B.C.’s minister of public safety and solicitor general says.
Canada’s overall crime rate decreased 8% in 2020 compared to 2019, Statistics Canada reported this week.
Full reporting on those numbers can be found here.
But, while the pandemic may have curbed some crimes, it could have exacerbated others.
“Stay-at-home orders and other restrictions meant more people were at home for longer periods of time, while fewer people were out publicly, reducing opportunities for many types of crime,” a new report said.
The agency said police-reported crime measured by the Crime Severity Index (CSI) decreased 8% in the first year of the pandemic, 11% lower than in 2010.
“National statistics help us to monitor our progress in furthering public safety while identifying root causes of changing crime trends and opportunities to combat them,” Minister Mike Farnworth said.
However, Statistics Canada said in the Juristat report, the pandemic has resulted in Canadians increasingly turning to the internet to connect with others and to facilitate work, school, shopping and health care, thus increasing the risk for different types of criminal offences online.
And, it said, the rate of police-reported child pornography incidents jumped 23% in 2020, Statistics Canada said July 27.
B.C. in general and Vancouver in particular saw the biggest increases in the country, numbers indicate. Full reporting on those numbers can be found here.
Those increases are unfortunate, Farnworth said.
“Pandemic circumstances may have increased certain kinds of victimization, including of children and youth who were spending more time online,” he said. “As well, the Juristat notes the increase in reported incidents could be the result of work initiated by the British Columbia Behavioural Sciences Group – Integrated Child Exploitation Unit (BSG) in 2014.”
He said BSG uses software developed by the Child Rescue Coalition to identify B.C. computers used to access or share child pornography on the Internet, from which BSG could open an investigation.
“Our government supports a wide range of programs and services focused on prevention, response and victim support, including specialized police units and the many local organizations serving child and youth survivors in their journey to healing,” Farnworth said.
“My ministry provides more than $40 million each year to support over 400 victim service and violence-against-women programs that serve victims, including victims of child and youth sexual exploitation,” he said.
The full report can be found here.