Police calls for domestic and family incidents, people in crisis rise during COVID-19

Hamilton police have seen a rise in the number of calls for domestic incidents, family trouble and people in crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Calls for people in crisis rise 14%, partly from encampments and overall provincial trend: deputy chief

The calls to Hamilton police have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The service said there have been more calls about people in crisis. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Hamilton police have seen a rise in the number of calls for domestic incidents, family trouble and people in crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deputy Chief Frank Bergen said during a Thursday police services board meeting there has been a 14 per cent increase in calls about people in crisis and a 16 per cent rise in assist to ambulance calls.

He explained part of the rise in calls could be linked to the city's encampments, "specifically within the stretch on Ferguson Avenue North and FirstOntario Place."

"To the point of where we are today, those numbers have returned to where, although we have not eradicated a problem and found full housing options for all our people who are living on the edge of proper shelter, we do not have a problem or a crisis we did one month ago."

But Bergen also said the rise in calls about people in crisis is happening province-wide. 

This comes after activists, especially those from Black Lives Matter, have called to reallocate funds from police to community services that can take a more holistic approach to these incidents.

Slight rise in domestic and family trouble calls

Police also saw a 4.6 per cent increase in domestic calls and a five per cent increase in family trouble reports.

"We are working with our women's advisory groups. We are working with [shelters]," Bergen said.

Local agencies previously told CBC News calls are down, as are the number of people going to shelters, but demand for online services is up — that could be because victims of abuse don't have as much alone time to make a phone call.

Other changes to calls for service include:

  • Noise complaints are up eight per cent.
  • Suspicious persons calls are up eight per cent.
  • Disturbance calls are up four per cent.
  • Trespassing is up 1.4 per cent.

Despite all this, overall calls to police were down by roughly two per cent.

That said, officers have said the pandemic has led to many more break-ins and speeding.


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