FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Calls for RCMP service have increased by 27.8 per cent from 2022, according to the Fort St. John RCMP Detachment’s semi-annual report.
Inspector Anthony Hanson presented the report detailing the detachment’s response in the community from January 30th to June 30th, 2023, to council on Monday.
Hanson said although there has been an increase in calls, it’s essential to note that trends are returning to the “historical norm” before the pandemic.
“To put it into perspective, in 2015, the Fort St. John detachment responded to 15,800 calls for service,” Hanson said. “The historical norm would be between 13,000 to 14,000 in terms of calls.”
Police received 5,402 calls for service within the city between January and June of 2023. This is a 34.1 per cent increase from 2022, when 4,028 calls were made to the RCMP during the same period.
Rurally, 1,272 calls for service were made in 2023 between January and June, a 6.5 per cent increase from the 1,194 calls made in 2022.
The criminal code call comparison, which excludes provincial acts and drugs, was also up 45.2 per cent compared to last year. Calls increased from 1,563 to 2,383 municipally and 314 to 342 rurally.
The RCMP saw a 63.9 per cent increase in property crimes compared to last year. According to the report, RCMP received 1,390 calls for service regarding property crime in 2023 compared to 848 in 2022.
Hanson says the increase in crime is because the “industry has restarted” from pandemic restrictions, resulting in a return of both economic and criminal activity.
“It’s [Fort St. John] a busy town again,” said Hanson.
“When I drove past the large parking lot in front of the Subway by the highway, it was packed with big rigs and industrial vehicles, and two years ago, there was nothing there. So, that brings the criminals.”
Hanson explained further by saying there is more money, more objects to steal, and more activity in the drug trade, all of which contribute to the rise in crime.
“In many cases, they’re perpetrated by individuals with addictions who are seeking funds to perpetuate their addiction, or they’re perpetuated because somebody owes money and has to find the funds.”
The increase in criminal activity has not gone unnoticed by Fort St. John community members.
Last month, a local woman began the recruitment process for a Citizens On Patrol (COP) group in hopes of providing extra eyes and ears in aid of RCMP.
RCMP are amping up response to property crime with the return of bike patrols throughout the city as well.