RCMP are concerned about an increase in the production and distribution of child pornography in Nanaimo, according to Insp. Lisa Fletcher.
“We’ve reached a five year high on the number of files we have involving child pornography and it’s just heart-wrenching,” said Fletcher, who presented a report to city council on Nov. 2.
She said the offence is a challenge to investigate because police officers must be exposed to the content to determine if new production is happening or old images are being distributed.
“We’re seeing more and more devices involved in these crimes, which is increasing the workload [for officers investigating],” said Fletcher, adding there have been successful prosecutions, but the offence continues to increase.
The quarterly report came at a time when property crime and vehicle collision incidents are lower than usual, while social disturbances are on the rise. Fletcher said the latter is generally disputes and arguments within families, which she speculated increased because people are forced to spend more time at home due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The crime rate overall ticked up as the restrictions eased during the third quarter of the year, but still remain 13 per cent lower than the same period last year, according to Fletcher.
Another area of concern for RCMP is an increase in the severity of injuries stemming from assaults, according to Fletcher.
She noted police responded to an average of 400 calls per month where mental health was a factor. Coun. Don Bonner asked if somebody other than the police, such as mental health professionals, could respond to some of the calls.
Fletcher replied that when police are dispatched to a call, the information they receive is often very limited and there is a risk a situation can escalate and become violent.
“Something that can be initially described as quite benign can become quite dynamic,” she said.