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Police data shows violence in our community has been on the rise in 2020

WRPS Chief Bryan Larkin said the increase in violence has a lot to do with underlying mental health issues
Bryan Larkin
KitchenerToday file photo of Waterloo Regional Police Chief Bryan Larkin

Waterloo Regional Police Services has analyzed homicide data from 2020 that shows an increase in violence.

Waterloo Regional Police Chief Bryan Larkin addressed the uptick in violence in Waterloo Region and said the isolation that comes with the COVID-19 pandemic is a contributing factor as well as underlying mental health issues.

The police service is working with the Canadian Mental Health Association of Waterloo-Wellington on a series of opportunities to educate and provide services.

"We hope to expand by February - the IMPACT team - which does a lot of referral work sans policing, they do it on their own. We are also seeing Homewood Health doing a series of initiatives in our community and other agencies," said Larkin. 

Larkin notes in a lockdown or stay-at-home order situation, there are victims who may be stuck at home with their abusers as opposed to former years where the victim can leave and receive help at different access points. 

"When you are in a shutdown or a lockdown, the victim may actually in many ways be stuck within the home with the offender and abuser," said Larkin.

Larkin notes that during a pandemic, it's become increasingly difficult to provide people with resources. 

"I think if we are all realistic until we see full vaccination, we are going to be in some sort of community restriction or community lockdown, and I think we have to prepare for that."

Larkin adds that Women's Crisis Services and other community health agencies continue to work towards providing education resources, but he notes that a community well-being approach is required going forward. 

"A community well-being approach is needed going forward in order to address the underlying mental health issues that contribute to violence being seen within the community."

In order to address the social determinants of health, Larkin said there needs to be a region-wide community response, as a result, he believes that within the next few years, we should see some of these issues pertaining to violence slowly decline. 

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