Message to Our Community - Understanding Hell Night
September 5th marks the eagerly awaited return of our youth to school, signalling the beginning of another academic year. It's an exciting day as many seize the opportunity to reunite with friends and acquaintances after the summer break. Particularly in South Delta, a unique tradition has emerged where young people gather on this evening, commonly referred to as "Hell Night." During this event, large groups of youth assemble, throughout South Delta. Regrettably, this behaviour has drawn criticism for its lack of respect towards the community, neighbours, educational institutions, and even their own well-being. Noise disturbances and property damage have been associated with Hell Night in the past. In light of these occurrences, there have been raised concerns about the adequacy of police intervention in preventing Hell Night.
It's worth noting that while some Hell Night events transpire peacefully without causing any disturbances and the majority of participants are respectful, there are instances where actions taken are neither peaceful nor reasonable, leading to disruptions. As a society, we refrain from imposing sweeping curfews or zero-tolerance policies across all aspects, recognizing the need for balanced and reasonable measures.
In the Canadian law context, unlawful assembly refers to the gathering of three or more individuals with the intent to carry out an action that they know will disrupt others. This definition holds significance as it aids law enforcement personnel in determining appropriate responses to various service calls. It serves as a guiding principle to distinguish acceptable conduct from unacceptable.
When the Delta Police receive reports of disturbances, property damage, or gatherings involving youth and alcohol, they are obligated by law to respond promptly. Any police response or intervention during Hell Night is fundamentally centred on ensuring public safety. This encompasses the well-being of those participating in Hell Night activities and the broader community affected by such participation. The safeguarding of individuals and property remains paramount.
To those considering participation in Hell Night, we impart a simple yet crucial message: prioritize your safety and demonstrate respect for your community. This community encompasses your neighbours, schools, law enforcement officers, and, most importantly, yourself.
Should you encounter a Delta Police officer during Hell Night while engaging in activities that are neither peaceful nor reasonable, it's important to recognize that officers possess a range of legal tools at their disposal. Many infractions under the Liquor Control Licensing Act and the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act, which pertain to minors, entail a fine of $230 per offence. Additionally, the liquor is seized, and oftentimes, a guardian is contacted to arrange a safe journey home. Criminal offences, such as Causing a Disturbance and Mischief, result in arrest, notification of a guardian, and a subsequent court appearance.
As you participate in Hell Night, remember to have fun responsibly, prioritize safety, and treat others and your surroundings with respect.