How about some good news about COVID-19? The pandemic has caused a reduction in crime and calls to the police this year in the Niagara Region.
“Crime is down and so are calls for service,” said Const. Philip Gavin, a spokesperson for the Niagara Regional Police Service. “We are at 96 per cent of what our calls for service was at this time last year.”
He said the trend is mostly due to low call volumes in March, April and May, the first three months of the pandemic.
There are also fewer vehicles on the road, so traffic collisions were low, he said. Shoplifting, thefts, and residential break-ins were also down. Gavin called the trend an “aberration from previous years.”
According to Statistic Canada, during the first 4 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, 17 police services in Canada reported a 16% decrease in selected criminal incidents, compared with the same period the year before. In contrast, the data collection agency said, the number of calls for service increased 7 per cent during the early months of the pandemic, particularly wellness checks by these police services and calls to attend domestic disturbances.
The criminal activity that rose across Canada, reported the Canadian Press, is uttering threats by a family member. It said police agencies reported four per cent more incidents during the same period in 2019.
Unlike in Niagara Region, the number of calls for service rose eight per cent in Canada. That includes wellness checks, mental health calls and domestic disturbances that request police involvement.
Stats Canada reported that the number of crimes and calls for service began to rise in May when physical distancing measures started to ease.
During the early months of the pandemic, police services in the study saw a 27 per cent decrease in reported sexual assaults, including those committed by non-family members, down 27 per cent, and family members, down 18 per cent, compared with the same period the year before.
The number of reported assaults also declined, including those committed by non-family, down 12 per cent, and, to a lesser extent, by family members, down four per cent.