Police in the Cowichan Valley are reporting an 11 per cent reduction in calls for service in 2020.
In a report to the City of Duncan, Insp. Chris Bear, head of the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment, said the detachment received 20,203 calls for service in 2020, down from the 22,720 it received in 2019.
Bear said that over the last quarter of the year, which includes October, November and December, the detachment saw an eight per cent reduction in calls from the same quarter in 2019.
He said that while the detachment has seen decreases in calls related to most offences in 2020, there were some increases, including arson which saw a jump from 17 in 2019 to 49 in 2020.
“During the winter holiday season, the RCMP saw a number of serious files, including two armed robberies [the suspect has been identified and is currently before the courts] and two separate fires that tragically resulted with fatalities,” Bear said.
“There has been numerous complaints of small fires and arson over the past quarter. More recently, there were suspicious fires at Drinkwater Elementary and École Mount Prevost in January. After an extensive investigation, an individual has been arrested and the matter is before the courts.”
Bear said that even though there are a number of COVID-19 cases in the Cowichan Valley, the RCMP continues to provide policing services.
“This has been thanks to the many other agencies working in collaboration in the Valley,” he said.
“It is great news that the vaccinations are being administered and hopefully soon, this pandemic will be in the past. There were 27 files under COVID-19 related measures, seven of which were unfounded, with most reports being received in November and December.”
Bear said crimes against people, including assaults, robbery and sex offences, saw an overall decrease of 11 per cent in the last quarter from 2019 to 2020, while crimes against property decreased overall by 24 per cent.
But cases of arson were way up, by 188 per cent, and drug possessions were up by 30 per cent.
Bear said that during 2020, approximately 50 per cent of the calls for service the RCMP responded to were from within the Municipality of North Cowichan, while 21 per cent came from the City of Duncan, 12 per cent came from Cowichan Tribes Indigenous lands, 11 per cent came from the Cowichan Valley Regional District, and six per cent were reported directly to the detachment.