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Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

VicPD releases video of downtown pepper spray attack

Results of a VicPD survey suggest Victorians are feeling progressively less safe downtown—both day and night—than in the past.

Mark Brennae
May 24, 2024
Crime
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

VicPD releases video of downtown pepper spray attack

Results of a VicPD survey suggest Victorians are feeling progressively less safe downtown—both day and night—than in the past.

Mark Brennae
May 24, 2024
Photos courtesy VicPD
Photos courtesy VicPD
Crime
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

VicPD releases video of downtown pepper spray attack

Results of a VicPD survey suggest Victorians are feeling progressively less safe downtown—both day and night—than in the past.

Mark Brennae
May 24, 2024
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VicPD releases video of downtown pepper spray attack

The CCTV footage shows three young people beating up another on Yates near Government.

The video was taken a little after midnight on Sat. May 11 and appears to show three young people swarming and pepper-spraying a youth. When that young person kicks back, one of the attackers appears to swing and miss with a punch, before the victim falls to the ground and is repeatedly kicked by all three.

VicPD said witnesses stepped in to break up the attack and the suspects were gone when police arrived.

While the attack is not representative of a typical night downtown—in fact, violence recently played out on the streets of Esquimalt—-results of a VicPD survey suggest Victorians are feeling progressively less safe downtown—both day and night—than in the past.

Study suggests 4 in 10 Victorians don't feel safe downtown

The VicPD study found that 59% of people who took part said they feel safe downtown during the day, down from 73% last year and 66% in 2022. At night, 22% said they feel safe downtown, a drop from 26% last year and 24% in ’22. 

Jeff Bray of the Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA) said the survey findings mirror what he’s heard from downtown business owners. 

“Our members are hearing that more in this last year than they did the previous year from their customers and clients,” Bray tells Capital Daily.

The VicPD survey results won’t be fully made public until after the police department dissects them but they suggest a public growing weary of drug use and violence. Bray agrees with that but he says sometimes perception drags reality kicking and screaming.

“You know, hundreds of thousands of tourists will come here this summer and marvel at our city. So you know, in terms of safety, is still in a very safe place,” he said. “But these perceptions and the narrative out there is a deterrent for people coming downtown and that impacts employment, that impacts the vibrancy and vitality downtown and the economic vitality of our businesses.”

Business owners are frustrated

Bray tells Capital Daily it’s not uncommon for him to hear from one of the DVBA’s 1,500 members, frustrated with the downtown drama and ready to relocate.

He says there are several factors at play, including the partial decriminalization of hard drugs has left people to “wander around the streets smoking meth, you know, barking at the moon.”

He credits the municipal government’s effort to protect businesses but he says help has to come from higher up.

Bray says province, feds have to weigh in

“We need the provincial government to step up and actually be providing services in a decentralized way to people who need the services rather than leaving them to their own devices.”

He said the federal government needs to amend its bail regulations so repeat offenders, including repeat shoplifters are not released into a revolving door. “Those two things alone would have tremendous positive improvements in the look and feel of downtown.”

Bray said decentralizing social supports throughout the region would also improve the look and feel.

“You know, downtown is not the centre of everything from a social services perspective, but it is the centre of many things culturally, and economically for the region, and it needs that kind of support.”

Related News

1 in 5 downtown businesses says it’s bad enough to leave: DVBA report
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