British Columbia appoints experts to deal with chronic repeat offenders – Smithers Interior News


The British Columbia government appointed two urban crime experts and gave them four months to find a solution to the chaos caused in downtown areas by a small number of repeat offenders.

Attorney General David Eby said Thursday the province is limited in dealing with chronic offenders with mental illness, with courts and federal law limiting their ability to keep people in jail. He has come under pressure in the BC Legislature to deal with an upsurge in attacks by strangers, shoplifting, vandalism and disorder in BC’s urban cores.

Eby said experts needed to consider “real-time electronic monitoring” of chronic offenders and the use of compulsory orders and involuntary mental health hospital beds to detain people who would not accept voluntary housing with supports for mental illness and addiction treatment.

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran said the problem in his downtown and other downtown neighborhoods stems partly from people with mental illness and addiction, and partly from “career criminals.” who are not dealt with effectively by the police and the courts.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said when Eby asked for data on the issue, she was surprised to see that in the 13 urban communities she and Basran represent, 200 people were responsible for 11,000 interactions with the police in a year.

“Some of these people are prolific property offenders, and they don’t have mental health issues or addictions, and there have to be consequences.” Help says. “If someone is arrested again and again for shoplifting, but they clearly have a mental health and/or addiction problem,” they should receive appropriate treatment.

The province has appointed retired police chief Doug LePard and Simon Fraser University criminologist Amanda Butler to make recommendations by September.

The mayors collected statistics for Eby to represent the worst cases:

• A Kelowna offender has 29 convictions and 346 RCMP files since 2016 for property crimes and assault, as well as barring conditions for 11 businesses. “The offender is regularly released on conditions and subsequently reoffends.”

• Nanaimo offender has 113 police records, 20 charges laid or recommended and seven convictions since 2019

• A Prince George offender has 916 police records since 2016, including 262 in the past 12 months, and none of the recent arrests have resulted in charges.

• Abbotsford Police are currently monitoring 81 prolific offenders with 10 to 29 convictions each, a 33% increase since 2019. Of these, 50 are considered “super prolific” with over 30 convictions.

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