B.C. will spend $25 million over three years to create teams of police, prosecutors, and probation officers to attempt to crack down on repeat violent offenders.
“Our government believes everyone deserves to feel safe in their communities,” said Mike Farnworth, B.C. Solicitor General and Minister for Public Safety, during a Tuesday morning announcement of the new program at the North Langley Community Police Office.
Farnworth said the program, dubbed the Repeat Violent Offending Intervention Initiative, will create “coordinated response teams,” where cops, prosecutors, and probation officers will work together to monitor cases from investigation, through the laying of criminal charges, to bail, trial, and sentencing, and on beyond to community supervision after release.
The new program will operate in every region of the province and will see local or regional teams in each area.
Farnworth said the teams are already being put together and the program will begin in April, although not every region or team will be able to start immediately.
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Chief Supt. John Brewer of the RCMP said that the program will run at the community level to identify cases and interventions locally.
They’ll be looking most intently at high-risk repeat offenders, Brewer said.
The new project is based on recommendations from the LePard-Butler report which was released last September.
The $25 million in funding will go towards 21 Crown counsel and 21 other professional BC Prosecution Service staffers to establish and support the dedicated prosecution teams, four full-time BC Corrections officials to develop, co-ordinate, and evaluate the program, nine correctional supervisors, nine probation officers working on enhanced release planning, and a dozen more probation officers working in community corrections.
The other side of action on repeat violent offenders is now expected from the federal government, Farnworth noted.
“For months, we have been advocating for changes to the bail system, which doesn’t adequately address repeat violent offending,” he said.
As of Friday, the federal government has pledged to amend the Criminal Code to make it more difficult for some offenders, particularly violent repeat offenders, to be released on bail awaiting trial.
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