‘Save Our Streets’ movement doubles across B.C. as concern grows over crime

Support from across British Columbia is pouring into a local group aimed at reducing street crime.

The Save Our Streets coalition says the situation has reached a crisis point in B.C., and it is pushing for a province-wide movement to make dealing with crimes such as store thefts, vandalism, and violence a priority in the next election.

Coalition co-founder Jess Ketchum, who formed the group with the CEO of London Drugs, says they’ve nearly doubled their membership since launching in October. It now has 59 community and citizen groups, organizations, and local businesses, up from 30 when it first formed.

He says they weren’t initially recruiting new members but interest came from a number of communities beyond Metro Vancouver, with many community groups like theirs wanting to work together. Now, there are new member organizations from Quesnel, Prince George, Kelowna, Kamloops, Nanaimo, Victoria, Trail, Campbell River, and the Lower Mainland, as well as some province-wide organizations.

“These groups had come together themselves just to deal with these issues or attempt to deal with the issues of crime and violence in their communities,” Ketchum told CityNews. “Business associations and individual businesses who are deeply concerned about what is happening in their communities came forward as well.”

He says one of the most challenging parts of addressing these issues is lack of statistical data, so they are working to gather information to set targets for improvement.

“We’re looking to do some research that we can track from month-to-month or quarter-to-quarter — certainly annually — on various levels and types of crime in communities throughout British Columbia,” Ketchum said.

He says this will show what mitigations are working or failing.

“We’re saying to government, ‘We need to have some KPIs — key performance measurements — that we can utilize to determine whether or not you as governments — plural — are addressing these issues to a level that’s going to be satisfactory,'” he said.

A working group within the coalition, which is made up of loss prevention experts from a number of firms, is looking for data in different places.

“Crime Stoppers are a member of our organization,” he said. “They have some data they’re working at pulling together … so we’ll pull that together so we’ll be able to say, ‘Hey, we’re making progress,’ or ‘We’re slipping behind again.'”

As well, Ketchum says there are some police forces that are working to aggregate data for the group.

When announcing the formation of the Save Our Streets coalition late last year, data from London Drugs estimated that store thefts cost about $500 per person across British Columbia.

With files from Mike Lloyd and Charlie Carey

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