Victoria Police are stepping up patrol in and around the downtown core this weekend, following an uptick in youth violence and vandalism.
For over a month, VicPD say officers have responded to reports of “violent offences” on downtown streets spurred by large groups of young people gathering and consuming alcohol and drugs.
Some nights, upwards of 150 youths have become involved in “many incidents,” according to police, who note the gatherings are being organized via social media apps.
In one random attack, a 70-year-old man was swarmed by two dozen youths before being kicked, punched, and spat on, resulting in severe facial trauma, VicPD recalls.
Another incident saw a police officer swarmed by youths as he was arresting another youth wearing a balaclava and armed with bear spray and knives.
Last weekend, officers responded to 12 incidents downtown, making eight arrests and seizing drugs, alcohol and knives. Three people required medical care for intoxication, police say.
Investigators find a “significant majority” of those involved are from Greater Victoria.
“Our presence downtown this weekend is to deter violence and ensure downtown is safe and enjoyable for everyone,” said VicPD Insp. Kerrilee Jones in a statement.
Jones says officers are working with local police agencies, youth probation, school districts, parents and guardians, and others, including youths themselves, to find immediate solutions.
“Regional school districts have reached out directly to parents and caregivers to ensure they are informed and have asked them to speak with their young family members about making safe choices downtown,” added VicPD.
Our youth violence & vandalism response team is returning to downtown #yyj hotspots tonight. Our goal is to reduce injuries & damage by providing a highly visible presence. We'll be live tweeting our deployment here. Join us #VicPDLive | https://t.co/MEHbGzZLz2
— Victoria Police (@vicpdcanada) May 20, 2022