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Domestic violence on the rise in Port Alberni

COVID-19 still affecting domestic violence stats, says Alberni RCMP’s top cop

Criminal offences in Port Alberni have gone down over the last few months, but domestic violence is still on the rise.

Port Alberni RCMP Officer in Charge Inspector Eric Rochette brought his quarterly report to Port Alberni city council on Monday, Oct. 26. The report covers the months of July to September.

He explained that domestic violence is up by 100 percent compared to this time last year, with 51 calls in 2020 compared to 25 calls in 2019.

Domestic violence was also up 100 percent in the April to June quarter.

“It’s quite higher than what historically we’ve seen during the same quarter,” said Rochette. He added that the impact of COVID-19 is “well-documented,” with financial issues, confinement and lack of support contributing to the rise in calls.

“We’ve been working really hard with Victim Services to really encourage victims to contact the police and report,” he said. “That may explain as well some of the increase in numbers.”

Total criminal offences are down by nine percent compared to the same time last year. Break and enters are down by 19 percent, and thefts from vehicles are down by 24 percent. Rochette added on Monday that at least three chronic offenders are currently in police custody.

“A lot of those property crimes are committed by a really small number of individuals,” said Rochette. “That’s obviously had a positive impact on the stats for the detachment.”

On Friday, Oct. 23, Island Health issued an overdose advisory for Port Alberni, based on multiple reports of increased overdose activity in the community. Rochette confirmed on Monday that the Port Alberni RCMP detachment is working with Federal Serious and Organized Crime (FSOC) to target some of the “bigger players” in drug trafficking.

The RCMP is also working with the town’s Community Action Team on overdose prevention.

“Anything we can do socially before we get to that point, the RCMP tries to get involved as well,” said Rochette.

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