Violent crime in Vancouver is now the highest it has been since 2013 and is concentrated in the northern part of the city, according to a new data report released this week by the Vancouver Police Department.
Driving the increase are robberies, attempted murders and assaults.
Violent crime was most prevalent in the policing districts that run from Stanley Park to Boundary Road, which includes the West End, downtown business area and Downtown Eastside.
That area accounted for 3,286 violent crimes this year compared to 3,081 last year.
By contrast, the VPD’s other two policing districts, which cover a much larger geographic area that includes south Vancouver, Grandview-Woodland, Mount Pleasant, Kitsilano and Kerrisdale saw 1,344 violent crimes reported compared to 1,288 for the same period in 2021.
The data in the report covers the first nine months of this year and compares it to the same periods in previous years.
This year, saw 4,739 violent crimes recorded across the city compared to 4,670 in 2013, which was the highest nine months on record over the past decade.
The data shows violent crime began to decrease in 2014 and reached a low of 3,930 incidents in 2016 before steadily increasing in 2019 (4,397 incidents), 2020 (4,429) and 2021 (4,440).
Assaults continue to be the most prevalent form of violence, consistently accounting for close to 80 per cent of all violent crimes, according to the data report that goes before the Vancouver Police Board Thursday.
'More serious and more violent'
Historically, fewer than 33 per cent of all assaults in Vancouver were considered serious, meaning cases where a person used a weapon or caused bodily harm. Beginning in 2020, the proportion of serious assaults increased by 40 per cent, the report said.
“Importantly, the historical data shows that assaults in Vancouver have not only increased in number but have also progressively become more serious and more violent,” said the report, noting an average of four unprovoked assaults occur every day in the city.
In July and August 2021, there were at least 95 bear spray incidents in the city, with several of those linked to youth-related violence, said the report, noting there is growing evidence the pandemic “had an extraordinary emotional toll on young persons, and a lasting detrimental impact on their psychological and social well-being.”
Crime and street disorder issues related to the East Hastings Street encampment increased significantly over the summer months, the report said. Assaults with weapons or causing injuries increased by 52 per cent along the strip and surrounding area when compared to July and August of 2021.
“Much of that violence is being perpetrated by predatory individuals and directed at the most vulnerable,” the report said.
Six-fold increase in anti-Asian hate crimes
Other data highlighted in the report said there was a six-fold increase in anti-Asian hate crime in the first eight months of 2022 relative to the three-year average preceding the pandemic.
Despite efforts by the VPD to increase community awareness and facilitate the reporting of hate crimes, there are reasons to believe that VPD statistics under-estimate the true extent of the problem, the report said.
“This idea is supported by academic research which shows that Asian victims are significantly and substantially less likely to report victimization to the police than other victims,” the report said.
From 2019 to 2021, there was a 296 per cent increase in graffiti in Chinatown.
“This included defaced murals and statues as well as racist graffiti on businesses,” the report said. “Recent high-profile hate-motivated assaults have only highlighted this problem and the VPD is actively pursuing initiatives to address both anti-Asian hate crime and graffiti issues around Chinatown.”