Significantly higher number of Mental Health Act arrests highlights 2021 report released in early February by Sidney/North Saanich RCMP.
According to the report, officers made 130 arrests under the Mental Health Act in 2021, a 48% increase from 2020.
“Police also responded to 379 calls for service where mental health was considered a contributing factor,” it read. “This is an 11 (percent) increase from 2020.”
The report also indicates that agents are spending more time waiting to release people into the care of hospital staff, with the average wait time increasing to 1.73 hours in 2021, from 1.67 hours in 2020.” Agents waited a total of 227.73 hours in 2021, which is a 52 (percent) increase over 2020. This increase is attributed to the growing number of arrests and the increase in average wait times reported in 2021.”
Staff Sgt. Wayne Conley said the increase in mental health calls comes as no surprise. “These are tough calls for police responders,” he said. “They need risk assessments and adequate resources to manage crises and public safety. Recent calls have involved people suffering mental health crises while in possession of guns.
Overall, the number of Criminal Code offenses dropped by 12% across the Sidney/North Saanich RCMP Detachment area. Crimes against persons fell 8%, while property crimes fell 4%, provided that the most recent drop in property crimes was lower than in previous years.
“When it comes to property crimes, we saw an increase in many property crime categories in 2021,” Conley said. “However, the levels are not at an alarming or concerning level.”
If we look at the traffic figures, the number of collisions on the territory of the detachment has dropped by 20%. But Conley also pointed out that a number of collisions involving injuries have increased, suggesting that some of the collisions are of a more serious nature. 2021 also included a fatal collision at the corner of Mills and West Saanich roads in November 2021.
In terms of location, the McTavish roundabout had the most collisions in 2021 with 14, followed by the intersection of Highway 17 and Beacon Avenue. The parking lots of Save-on-Food and Thrifty Food stores in Sidney also recorded seven and six collisions respectively.
Conley also added that reducing impaired driving remains a priority. Overall, the number of impaired drivers taken off the road increased by 8% in 2021 compared to 2020.
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