Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum says he’s “disheartened” by the city’s latest quarterly crime stats released Thursday and maintains increases in violent crimes and property crimes underline the city’s need to have its own police force instead of the Surrey RCMP.
“While I am disheartened by the latest crime statistics released today, it does not come as a surprise to me,” McCallum stated in a press release. “Over the last year, I have spoken to many members of our community. From residents to business owners, the one message that I have constantly heard is that people continue to feel unsafe in our city. Unfortunately the third quarter crime statistics backs up what the people of Surrey have been telling me.”
According to the Surrey RCMP’s crime statistics released for the third quarter of 2019, the total number of Criminal Code Offences increased by six per cent over the previous quarter, to 12,063 crimes from 11,396. The number of violent crimes rose by five per cent, to 2,189 from 2,092; property crimes are up 10 per cent, to 7,203 from 6,552.
The RCMP says these latest local statistics are consistent with increases in violent and property crime in the region.
“These trends that we’re seeing are in line with increases that have been noted across the Lower Mainland,” Corporal Elenore Sturko told the Now-Leader.
Meantime, McCallum said while “our RCMP members are doing the best job they can” it is clear to him, from what he’s heard from Surrey residents “that Surrey would benefit from having its own police department. I continue to urge the Solicitor General to make this a top priority and that we work as quickly as possible to establish the Surrey Police Department.”
Councillor Linda Annis also put out a press release Thursday, saying “the mayor’s freeze on any new officers is compromising public safety.”
Surrey is 52 officers short of the hiring commitments made by the Surrey First council in 2016, she said.
“In fact, the truth is that compared to Vancouver we should really have 300 new officers,” Annis said. “The RCMP tell us the number of service calls they’re handling is up four per cent year-over-year, and Surrey continues to grow by 300 families every month, but our police numbers aren’t keeping up. That definitely puts public safety at risk.”
Annis is also the executive director of Crime Stoppers.
“As we wait for the province’s decision on the creation of a city police department, crime doesn’t take a holiday,” she said. “We need officers now and it’s just not happening. We’re starving the RCMP and ignoring the needs of our growing city, it makes absolutely no sense. Our policing numbers aren’tkeeping up and it’s only a matter of time before the shortages take their toll on public safety. We need boots on the ground now, regardless of the colour of the badge, and jeopardizing public safety while we wait for a civic police force is no way to provide proper policing and resources that are needed right away.”
By category, in the year’s third quarter compared to the second, there were five homicides compared to three, making for an increase of 67 per cent. The number of attempted murders rose by 167 per cent, to eight from three; robberies rose by 72 per cent, to 103 from 60; sexual assaults fell by 14 per cent, to 127 from 147; residential break-ins are up nine per cent, to 278 from 254, and auto theft dropped by seven per cent, to 358 from 387.