A significantly higher number of apprehensions under the Mental Health Act highlight the 2021 report released in early February by Sidney/North Saanich RCMP.
According to the report, officers made 130 apprehensions under the Mental Health Act in 2021, an increase of 48 per cent compared to 2020.
“Police also responded to 379 calls for service where mental health was deemed to be a contributing factor,” it reads. “This is an 11 (per cent) increase over 2020.”
The report also points to officers spending more time waiting to release individuals into the care of hospital staff as the average wait time rose to 1.73 hours in 2021, up from 1.67 hours in 2020. “Officers waited a total of 227.73 hours in 2021, resulting in a 52 (per cent) increase over 2020. This increase is attributed to the growing number of apprehensions and increasing average wait times reported in 2021.”
Staff-Sgt. Wayne Conley said the increase in mental health calls is not a surprise. “These are challenging calls for police responders,” he said. “They require risk assessments and adequate resources to manage crises and public safety. Recent calls have involved persons experiencing mental health crises while possessing weapons.”
Overall, the number of criminal code offences dropped 12 per cent across the jurisdiction of the Sidney/North Saanich RCMP detachment. Crimes against persons dropped eight per cent, while crimes against property dropped by four per cent with the proviso that the most recent drop in property crimes was less than in previous years.
“With respect to property crime, we did see an increase in many categories of property crime in 2021,” said Conley. “However, the levels are not at an alarming level or serious concern.”
Looking at traffic figures, the number of collisions within the detachment’s jurisdiction dropped 20 per cent. But Conley also pointed out a number of collisions involving injuries has gone up, suggesting that some of the collisions are of a more serious nature. 2021 also included a fatal collision at the corner of Mills and West Saanich roads in November 2021.
In terms of location, the McTavish traffic circle recorded the highest number of collisions in 2021 with 14, followed by the intersection of Highway 17 and Beacon Avenue. The parking lots of Sidney’s Save-on-Food and Thrifty Food location also recorded seven and six collisions respectively.
Conley also added that the curtailment of impaired driving remains a priority. Overall, the number of impaired drivers removed from the road rose by eight per cent in 2021 compared to 2020.
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