Date: Friday, May 20, 2022
Files: 22-15345, 22-17840, 22-17827
Victoria, BC – VicPD’s Youth Violence and Vandalism Interdiction and Engagement Response Team is returning to downtown Victoria this week in efforts to continue to deter violence and vandalism.
For the last six weeks, officers have been responding to calls for service for violent offences and vandalism related to large groups of youths gathering in downtown Victoria and consuming alcohol and drugs. These gatherings have been organized by a core group via SnapChat and WhatsApp. They have resulted in nights in which upwards of 150 youths, split into multiple groups, have become involved in many incidents across the downtown Victoria area. These include:
- A random attack in which a 70-year-old man was swarmed by a group of 25 youths. He was left with significant, but non-life-threatening facial injuries after being kicked, punched and spat on;
- A random attack on a couple who were swarmed, followed by a group of youths and a woman choked;
- A random attack on an unhoused couple that saw a youth struck in the face with a flashlight;
- The swarming of a VicPD officer as he arrested a youth armed with bear spray, knives and wearing a balaclava after he responded to a call for multiple youths engaged in a “bear spray fight”;
- A random attack on a couple, who fled to their vehicle, which was surrounded and damaged. A youth was sent to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries in this incident.
Officers and staff from across VicPD, including the Community Services Division (CSD), Patrol Division, Investigative Services Division (ISD) and Community Engagement Division (CED) have all responded.
Last weekend VicPD’s Youth Violence and Vandalism Interdiction and Engagement Response Team augmented Patrol resources to establish a high-visibility presence at key locations in downtown Victoria. During Friday and Saturday nights, officers responded to 12 incidents, making 8 arrests and seized drugs, alcohol and knives. Of the 8 youth arrested, three required medical care for intoxication. During the operation, officers were approached by staff at local businesses and members of the public, who shared stories of unreported assaults and vandalism and expressed relief at officers’ presence. This operation was shared during a VicPD Live Tweetalong.
The significant majority of youths involved are from across Greater Victoria.
“Our presence downtown this weekend is to deter violence and ensure downtown is safe and enjoyable for everyone,” VicPD Community Services Division Inspector Kerrilee Jones said “VicPD is continuing work with our partners including all local police agencies, youth probation, the school districts from across the region including SD61, SD62 and SD63, private schools, municipalities, community groups, parents, families and youths themselves to help find short, medium and long solutions.”
Regional school districts have reached out directly to parents and caregivers to ensure that they are informed and have asked them to speak with their young family members about making safe choices downtown.