Police calls for domestic violence, mental crises rise during pandemic

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New data from some of Canada's biggest police forces show major COVID-19 lockdowns across much of the country in the spring led to a sharp uptick in calls to police for domestic violence and people in a mental health crisis.

At the same time, police say reports of many other crimes fell, including robbery, assault, sexual assault and impaired driving.

Statistics Canada released the data today using information provided by 17 police forces across Canada between March and June.

During those months, an estimated three million people lost their jobs as restaurants, retail outlets, gyms, movie theatres and tourism businesses were forced to close.

Public safety experts and mental health advocates worried the anxiety and pressure of the pandemic was going to wreak havoc on already stressed families, leading to more domestic violence, child abuse and mental health trauma.

The initial data reported by police appears to bear witness to that, with calls to police for domestic disturbances up 12 per cent, for people in a mental health crisis up 11 per cent and for child welfare checks up almost 19 per cent.