In an attempt to tackle a surge in chronic offences and worries about public safety, the British Columbia government is launching new repeat violent offender co-ordinated response teams.
The teams will consist of police officers, 21 dedicated prosecutors, 21 probation officers, 21 support personnel and nine correctional supervisors.
Responsibilities will include monitoring high-risk repeat offender cases through the criminal justice system, conducting investigations and sharing information to keep repeat violent offenders in custody before trial.
The BC NDP have been under pressure to act following concerns raised over offenders being released, only to re-offend hours later.
In October, Mohammed Majidpour, 35, was granted bail under conditions while being a suspect in a disturbing and possibly racially-motivated attack on a woman in downtown Vancouver. He was arrested and back in custody within 24 hours of release.
“Being compassionate, concerned and taking action on mental-health and addiction issues does not mean that we have to accept repeated criminal behaviour or violence,” Premier David Eby said.
“Everyone deserves to feel safe in their community. We are making changes to bring key groups together to keep people and communities safe.”
The province describes these collaborative teams as a new and improved version of B.C.’s Prolific Offender Management program.
The former program, which ran from 2008 until 2012, was defunded by a previous BC Liberal government.
To add to this, the province will provide direction to the prosecution system to implement a clear and understandable approach to bail for repeat violent offenders within the existing federal law.
The new policy will take effect on November 22.
The wide-ranging announcement on Sunday morning in Vancouver also includes expanding mental-health crisis response teams into more communities and taking the next steps in creating a new model of addictions care at St. Paul’s Hospital.
The addictions care model will allow patients to move from crisis response in the emergency room to detox to treatment services. It is in partnership with Vancouver Coastal Health and Providence Health Care, with plans to expand this model in the future.
Premier Eby has acted quickly since being sworn in on Friday, first announcing a suite of affordability measures, and is planning two pieces of legislation on housing, to be introduced on Monday.
The public safety announcement also includes opening 10 new Indigenous Justice Centres to provide culturally appropriate support for Indigenous Peoples involved in the justice system.
“I applaud Premier Eby and the provincial government for their bold leadership and partnership in making these critical investments and policy changes,” Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim said.
“I look forward to continuing to work together to improve public safety outcomes and ensure the most vulnerable members of our community have access to the support and care they need.”
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