After years of efforts by the local RCMP, property crime is decreasing in Kelowna.
However, according to a report set to be presented to city council next week, the COVID-19 pandemic likely had a hand in the drop and personal crime is developing an upward trend.
The report on Kelowna’s public safety and crime trends throughout 2020 was prepared by the local detachment’s new top cop Supt. Kara Triance, who took charge in October 2020. She notes property crime decreased in the city by almost 16 per cent in 2020. That number is led by a 24.5 per cent decrease in auto theft to 422 offences in 2020 from 559 in 2019.
She claims the decrease is a result of proactive policing, public campaigns and targeting known offenders, alongside the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Triance admitted that 2020 also posed new challenges, including an increase in crimes against persons.
That includes a 17.7 per cent increase in common assault offences, to 1159 from 985, and a 15.3 per cent increase in domestic violence offences, to 776 from 673. Offences for uttering threats and harassment were up a substantial 40.9 per cent, to 648 from 460, and assault with weapon offences increased by 22.1 per cent, to 326 from 267.
On the other hand, sexual assault offences were down, decreasing to 144 from 159.
“In particular, national victimization surveys show rates of reporting to the police are lower for sexual assaults and spousal violence than for other types of crimes,” Triance wrote in her presentation to council. “Mindful of historical concerns over the classification of sexual assaults in Kelowna, we are committed to earning the trust of victims.”
Triance said the detachment will continue to monitor increases in domestic violence and serious assaults as “our new social and economic context continues to evolve.”
She said similar shifts could be seen in detachments across the country in 2020.
In total, Kelowna Mounties responded to 58,740 calls for service in 2020, down 2.5 per cent from the 60,219 calls they responded to in 2019.
With the detachment’s 2016–2019 crime reduction strategy concluded, the Kelowna RCMP has begun developing its 2021–2024 strategic plan. That is set to come to council for input in April.
“It is time for a new strategy — one that is intentionally designed to bring down Kelowna CMA (census metropolitan area) crime rates and address new social and economic challenges,” Triance wrote.
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