Surrey council could expand crime prevention program
Councillor Bruce Hayne believes Newton's community patrol program would be a success in Whalley
Surrey city council is debating whether a crime reduction program that has been successful in Newton can help address some of the problems plaguing other parts of the city.
For the last 11 months, a team of uniformed community patrol officers has been walking the beat through high crime areas near King George Blvd. and 72 Avenue.
"They are a beat patrol and they go around and ensure that there is a safe perception in the area," said Newton Business Improvement Association executive director Philip Aguirre.
"They'll deal with the homeless and shoplifting but they'll also do outreach and look for services for people who are vulnerable in our community."
Funding dries up in January for the Newton Community Patrol Program but it's widely expected council will extend it for at least another year.
"It seems to have had a positive impact on the Newton Town Centre in terms of people's feeling of personal safety, particularly around places like the Newton Bus Loop."
Hayne said council is also considering expanding it to other neighbourhoods.
"Simon Fraser University, for instance, has been in discussions with us as they look at expansion in the city centre area," Hayne said.
"We have to look at the public safety budget and where the greatest needs are and right now we have an incredible need around the 135A Street strip with homeless folks there."
Hayne said council does not plan to pull resources away from Newton if the program expands.
Pushing crime out?
The latest crime statistics from the Surrey RCMP show a dramatic fall in break-ins at Newton businesses — but there has been a spike in residential break and enter cases.
"They're saying things are better in Newton and we have certainly seen some improvements in the Newton Town Centre but statistics are telling us we may have pushed the problem into our external neighbourhoods," said Newton Community Association spokesperson Douglas Elford.
The Surrey RCMP has launched a number of initiatives over the last year focused on making Newton safer.
They are targeting prolific offenders, doing outreach work and community response units have made several arrests.