Saskatoon police see rise in domestic assaults since start of COVID-19 restrictions

Saskatoon police went to 7 per cent more domestic assault calls in April than last year.

Chief Troy Cooper says trend is troubling, but not unique to Saskatoon

Assault calls have not dropped, but property crime has, says Chief Troy Cooper. (CBC)

The numbers aren't scientific, but they still trouble Saskatoon Police Service Chief Troy Cooper.

Officers responded to seven per cent more domestic assault calls in April 2020 than they did for the same month last year. Cooper talked about that, and other pandemic crime trends, in a video conference Wednesday.

"What we have seen is a slow increase over week on week of our domestic calls that we're attending. So although it's not particularly scientific yet, it's a trend that's concerning," he said.

Cooper added that he's in touch with other police services and that it's a not trend unique to Saskatoon. The restrictions around COVID-19 are throwing people into close quarters from coast-to-coast.

"There are some common themes we saw throughout the pandemic across the globe, and one of them was the concern around domestic violence and the increase of domestic violence."

Cooper said city police have now investigated more than 300 complaints of non-compliance with COVID-19 guidelines, most commonly for more than 10 people gathering. He said police are still taking an educational approach and have not issued any tickets.

He said calls for service have dropped about 13 per cent over the last nine weeks, but not across all call types.

For instance, assault calls have not dropped, but property crime has, including thefts and break and enters.

There has also been a slight decrease in sexual violence reports.

"We attribute that to barriers to reporting," he said.

"Common areas that they would report — schools and hospitals and police services — have become more difficult to attend to."


Dan Zakreski is a reporter for CBC Saskatoon.