Crime, Prostitution, Drugs and Murder in the Downtown Eastside
Crime in the Downtown Eastside has been punctuated by the murder trial of BC pig farmer Robert Pickton. Pickton is currently on trial for six of the 26 murders he is been charged with. Many of the victims were residents of, or frequented Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. His victims were primarily prostitutes and drug addicts – an unfortunate reality for many in the DTES.
So bad have some of the criminal problems become, and so hopeless the cause for some, that the United Nations even singled out the Downtown Eastside. UN spokesperson Patricia Leidl said of the Downtown Eastside, It is one of the worst areas of urban blight that Ive ever seen and Ive travelled all over the world. To the UN it epitomizes the problems all big cities face if they do not adequately deal with issue of urban poor. And for Vancouver that is doubly shameful to be singled out as on the other hand, Vancouver is also always ranked in the top few cities in the world in which to live.
Much of the current drug and crime problems revolve around methamphetamine and the Downtown Eastsides long-time nemesis, heroin. The sale of drugs occurs brazenly in the open much of the time, and often centres itself on the corner of Main and Hastings and the alleyways surrounding it. This is half a block from the Vancouver Polices Main Street Police Station. Drug addiction and the poverty that comes with it culminates with many turning to crime and prostitution, replete with underage prostitutes walking the Kiddie Stroll.
Vancouver Police Department officers arresting a suspect for drug offences in an alleyway in Vancouvers Downtown Eastside. With a major police presence in the area, the Vancouver Police have long put pressure on the drug dealers. Often though, they only end up arresting the low-level street dealers who are usually only selling to support their own drug habits.