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Statistics show crime on the rise

Police attribute increase in numbers to increased police reporting



Whistler's crime rate has increased 18 per cent from 2002-2003, making the resort's crime rate more than two times greater than the rest of the province.

The figures, outlined in the Community Monitoring Report, show that in 2003 there were 243 offences per 1,000 permanent residents, compared to 124 offences for the rest of B.C.

But, according to Whistler RCMP Staff Sergeant Norm McPhail, those numbers are skewed because of Whistler’s fluctuating population, which climbs from a permanent base of roughly 10,000 people to more than 40,000 in peak periods. And many of those guests come here to party.

"Overall that would look high but you've got to realize that we have a lot of people coming to town, a lot of people staying for a short period of time and then leaving town," he explained.

"That brings with it a whole dynamic. Not a lot of people cause problems but people do cause problems…."

It's the nature of policing in resort communities. Guests come to Whistler to relax and have fun. They're on holiday and trying to enjoy themselves and oftentimes that involves alcohol.

"The main issue of the violent offences are related to overintoxification, or overindulgence of liquor and/or drugs," said McPhail.

Violent crimes, which include homicides, sexual assaults, assaults and robberies, are also up 60 per cent from 1997 to 2002.

Violent crimes account for 9 per cent of all criminal code offences in Whistler, which is comparable to the provincial average.

McPhail said most of the violent crimes in Whistler are assaults, which stem from drinking.

The numbers are up by 60 per cent, he explained, simply because there is far more police reporting nowadays compared to previous years.

Every Friday and Saturday night, and during every long weekend or special event, Whistler's police force is beefed up with extra troops. This is in response to concerns from village businesses and the municipality. On any given Friday night there are four to six more officers on duty.

"Those officers are encouraged to make it a palatable stay for anybody in the village," said McPhail. "So if anybody decides to overindulge, those officers are there to 1) prevent that from happening and 2) deal with whatever does happen in that regard.

"Officers are encouraged to write tickets."

This zero tolerance policy is also reflected in the number of provincial statue offences. Between 1997 and 2002 the number of provincial statute offences in Whistler increased 356 per cent, from 247 to more than 1,100.

"This largely reflects the introduction of a no tolerance policy toward rowdiness, public drunkenness and open alcohol in the village," states the report.

Another factor which makes Whistler's crime statistics high, is the number of property offences in the resort. Property crimes accounted for 66 per cent of all Whistler criminal code offences in 2002, which is 10 per cent higher than the provincial average for the same year.

Affluent guests come for a holiday, explained McPhail, and leave expensive ski equipment and camera equipment in unlocked cars.

"So we have a lot of things of high value that are around the village for those that wish to take it," he added.

"We have a theft problem we're concerned with."

Despite the increasing statistics in the monitoring report, McPhail maintains Whistler is a safe place.

"As a result of the increase in police presence, there is a resulting increase in reporting crime statistics," he said,

"…(Y)ou're seeing that (the increases) because we're out there. If we weren't out there, you'd be seeing all of that but it wouldn't be recorded."

The Community Monitoring Report can be accessed online at .

There will be an open house on Saturday, Feb. 19 at Myrtle Philip school in the Millar Room from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Municipal staff will be on hand to answer any questions.

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