VicPD has released its annual community survey results on perception of safety, crime and policing in Victoria and Esquimalt. (Black Press Media file photo)

VicPD has released its annual community survey results on perception of safety, crime and policing in Victoria and Esquimalt. (Black Press Media file photo)

People feel three times safer at night in downtown Victoria than they did in 2014

VicPD survey respondents’ top police priorities not actually crimes

A Victoria police poll found residents and business owners believe they have seen downtown safety improve since a decade ago.

VicPD on June 8 released the results of its 2022 Community Survey, a now-annual gauge of impressions, concerns and opinions around public safety and policing in Victoria and Esquimalt.

Surveys were mailed to random residences and businesses from Feb. 15 to March 31. Only 1,300 (26 per cent) were completed of the 5,000 surveys sent out.

The per cent of respondents who feel safe in downtown Victoria and Esquimalt has stayed consistent over the last three years, but that only ranged between 37 and 41 per cent when it comes to how people feel at night.

However, people feel safer in downtown Victoria now than they did just a decade ago. The 2014 VicPD community survey found just 10 per cent of respondents felt safe at night in downtown Victoria, with that improving to 29 per cent in 2022.

The 2014 survey’s response rate (48 per cent) was almost twice as high as the 2022 poll, although the department only distributed a total of 1,611 surveys that year.

The top two areas people want police to pay closer attention to – homelessness and mental health – are not crimes. Respondents in that section were only able to choose one option and no issue garnered more than 18 per cent. Addressing breaking and entering and traffic offences ranked as the next highest priorities, at 15 and 14 per cent respectively.

READ: B.C. MLAs recommend moving to new provincial police force

Slightly fewer respondents (26 per cent) said they were a victim of a crime in the 2022 survey, compared to the last two years (both at 29 per cent). Those who felt crime had increased rose sharply between 2020 and 2021 (from 34 to 55 per cent). That was also down slightly, to 52 per cent, this year.

People seem torn over whether the department is accountable, as the answers “agree” or “I don’t know” to the question both drew 45 per cent. VicPD is seen as 11 per cent less accountable than it was two years ago.

Those approving of police’s use of force rose from 40 per cent to 70 per cent between 2014 and 2020. That approval has fallen by ten points in the last two years.

Most respondents find the police department approachable, though that stat slightly dropped to 77 per cent from 83 per cent in 2020.

On how to deal with problems, having more patrol/making officers more visible received the most support, with hiring more officers coming in second.

READ: Why many Victoria residents may perceive an increase in crime

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