By Ruth Davenport - Metro Halifax
HALIFAX - One year after launching a new safety strategy for the downtown core, Halifax Regional Police say the crime stats are looking pretty good.
© Metro Halifax file photo
Customers enjoy the sunshine on a bar patio on Argyle Street last year.
The Downtown Safety Strategy, launched June 1, 2012, was designed to improve public safety downtown by reducing public intoxication and the number of assaults. Beat officers wearing traffic vests patrol the streets, talking to patrons, checking for signs of excessive drinking, and also stroll through bars and restaurants to curb incidents that can spill out onto the street.
“The bulk of the comments we’ve had are that the strategy’s been very effective, the police seem to have a good presence,” said Paul MacKinnon, executive director of the Downtown Business Commission. “It’s about feet on the street, that’s what the business community consistently says they want to see.”
Serious assaults fell in the downtown core from a five-year average of 68 incidents to 32 incidents last year, a drop of 52 per cent. Total assaults, including common and serious assaults, dropped by 17 per cent from 196 to 161.
MacKinnon said the next step in reducing violent crime will come from getting more cabs and buses running to get people out of the downtown core after the bars close.
“That seems to be when violent incidents happen, it’s when people are milling around, they’re waiting for cabs or whatever,” he said.
Regional council is expecting a review this month on the implementation of recommendations from the 2008 Mayor’s Roundtable on Violence report and what the impact of the recommendations has been.