VICTORIA -- The Victoria Police Department released its 2020 community survey Wednesday, providing insights into residents’ opinions of the city and its police services.

Overall, 86 per cent of respondents said they were satisfied with VicPD’s service. However, just 41 per cent said they felt safe in the city’s downtown core or in Esquimalt Plaza at night.

The survey was conducted between March 4 and May 15. Overall, 2,958 survey packages were sent out to Victoria and Esquimalt residents, with 969 completed packages returned to police, or roughly 33 per cent.

While fewer than half of all respondents said they felt safe in downtown Victoria or in Esquimalt Plaza at night, the total is statistically unchanged from what it was in previous years. In 2017, during VicPD’s most recent community survey, only 42 per cent of respondents said they felt safe in these areas at night.

A more significant drop was seen when respondents were asked how they felt about safety in the downtown core during the day.

In 2017, 92 per cent of respondents said they felt safe in downtown Victoria or Esquimalt Plaza during daylight hours. In 2020, just 84 per cent said they felt safe under the same conditions.

While concerns about safety are higher than previous years, the number of respondents who said they were victims of crime decreased in 2020 compared to 2017.

In 2020, 29 per cent of respondents said they had been the victim of a crime within the past five years. In 2017, that number was 33 per cent.

Asked about their top concerns with public safety, the largest number of respondents – 48 per cent – chose “social disorder,” which includes homelessness, drug activity and panhandling, according to VicPD.

The next top concern was theft, with 10 per cent of respondents saying that was a priority, followed by traffic-related crimes at 9 per cent.

According to VicPD, the community survey has a confidence level of 95 per cent with a margin of error of 3.13 per cent.

Moving forward, the police department plans to conduct the survey annually, rather than once every three years.

“Thank you to all of the residents and businesses in Victoria and Esquimalt who participated in the 2020 VicPD Community Survey,” said VicPD Chief Constable Del Manak in a release Wednesday.

“This survey is a cornerstone of our engagement efforts as it allows us to measure the public’s perception of community safety while highlighting how VicPD is doing as your police service,” he said.

The full results of the survey can be found here