Hate crimes up 97% overall in Vancouver last year, anti-Asian hate crimes up 717%
VANCOUVER -- A report to be presented to Vancouver's police board on Thursday reiterates what officers warned the public earlier in 2020: hate crime incidents have increased in the city.
The annual summary explores a variety of statistics in the city, including decreases in reports of sex offences and robberies, and increases in culpable homicide and assaults.
Also among the increases were hate crimes, particularly those against people of Asian descent.
The report says the number of incidents overall was 280 in 2020, up from 142 the year before. This is an increase of 97 per cent.
Anti-Asian hate crime incidents spiked by a much higher percentage. There were just 12 reports in 2019, but 98 were reported last year.
Const. Tania Visinitin of the Vancouver Police Department said the peak of the reports came in May, and that they have slowed since the summer. While there were some reports of injuries, she added there are other impacts.
“The trauma and psychological impact from these incidents trumps everything,” she told CTV News.
She added officers had reached out to the community to encourage people to report hate crimes and let them know the force took the allegations seriously.
While the increase is lower than what was reported in October – when a report comparing the first nine months of 2020 to the same period in 2019 showed hate crime was up 878 per cent – it is still an increase of 717 per cent.
It's a statistic B.C.'s premier called "deeply troubling."
In a post on Twitter, John Horgan wrote, "Our work includes moving forward on anti-racism legislation, but there's more for all of us to do in our stand against racism and hate in all its forms."
Asked about the disturbing statistics at an unrelated press conference, he added B.C.’s Solicitor General was speaking to police forces about the importance of prosecuting hate crimes, which often carry stiffer penalties.
“There’s more difficulty in prosecutions, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't follow through," Horgan said, adding that racist crimes "will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
The VPD couldn’t say how many charges were laid last year.
Asked how many hate charges were approved in 2020, the B.C. Prosecution Service said in terms of hate crimes as defined in the Criminal Code – just one.
Dan MacLaghlin added in an email, “Most of what are commonly regarded as hate crimes are general offences (assault, uttering threats, mischief are examples) which are motivated by hate. The BCPS does not track these offences based on the aggravating factors alleged on sentencing or the motivating influence on the accused.”
Last year, the city's police chief said the department had met with associations including those in Chinatown to raise awareness of how to appropriately report incidents including racial slurs and threats. These meetings occurred after police noticed what Deputy Chief Const. Howard Chow called "some concerning trends" in the spring.
Among the incidents reported publicly last year were repeated vandalism of the Chinese Cultural Centre, and an attack on a 92-year-old man with dementia.
A woman spoke to CTV News in May about an incident during which a man made sexist and racist comments, then spat in her face.
A poll conducted halfway through the year showed nearly one-quarter of respondents of East or South Asian descent said they'd been the target of racial slurs or insults.