A growing proportion of British Columbians believe public safety is a problem in their community, a new poll from Research Co. has found.
In the online survey of a representative sample of British Columbians, almost two-in-five residents (38%) say the level of criminal activity in their community has increased in the past four years.
Women (41%) and residents aged 55 and over (44%) are more likely to perceive a rise in criminal activity in their community.
On a regional basis, people who live in the Okanagan and the North (47%) and in Vancouver Island (46%) are also more likely to say that the public safety situation is worse now than it was four years ago, compared to 36% in the Lower Mainland.
Across the province, 17% of residents report having been a victim of a crime where the police were called in (such as an assault or a car break-in) in their community—a proportion that rises to 25% among those aged 35-to-54 and 24% in the Okanagan and the North.
Almost three-in-ten British Columbians (29%) say they fear becoming a victim of a crime in their community “a great deal” or “a fair amount”, including 33% of women, 33% of those aged 18-to-34 and 31% of Lower Mainland residents.
“There is a deep generational divide when it comes to perceptions of public safety in British Columbia,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “Millennials are more likely to fear becoming victims, Generation Xers are more likely to actually have contacted the police, and Baby Boomers are more likely to say that crime is on the rise in their community.”
When asked which factors deserve “a great deal” of the blame for the current situation regarding crime and public safety in their community, a majority of British Columbians (51%) select addiction and mental health issues, while two-in-five (40%) choose gangs and the illegal drug trade.
In addition, 36% think an inadequate court system is to blame, while 33% select lack of values and the improper education of youth, and 26% mention poverty and inequality.
The three lowest ranked factors are insufficient policing and lack of resources to combat crime (19%), bad economy and unemployment (13%) and immigrants and minorities (8%).
Results are based on an online study conducted from June 27 to June 29, 2018, among 800 adults in British Columbia.