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Repeat violent offending teams strengthen public safety

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 12:02 PDT, Tue March 14, 2023

The province is creating dedicated police-prosecutor-probation officer teams to help keep communities safe by focusing on repeat violent offending throughout British Columbia.

The Repeat Violent Offending Intervention Initiative is a key component of the province’s Safer Communities Action Plan. Police, dedicated prosecutors and probation officers will focus on improving public safety by co-ordinating responses across the justice system and supporting better outcomes for offenders.

“We are pulling out all the stops to make sure British Columbians feel safe,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “Our government made a commitment to tackle the complex issue of repeat violent offending, and we’re backing that promise with concrete action. With the Repeat Violent Offending Intervention Initiative, government agencies will have the resources they need to pool their expertise and work collaboratively to protect communities and help people break the cycle of offending.”

The province is investing $25 million over three years to support:

  • 21 Crown counsel and 21 other professional BC Prosecution Service professional staff 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 based in correctional centres for enhanced release planning; and
  • 12 dedicated probation officers based in community corrections offices to support the teams.

The initiative, which will operate in every region of B.C., is already being staffed, with implementation expected to begin in April 2023. The teams will identify cases for investigation and intervention, and provide documentation that will help prosecutors make informed decisions about charge assessments and prosecutions. Consultations are underway with Indigenous stakeholders to ensure case management is culturally appropriate.

“Repeat violent offending is a concern right across the country,” said Niki Sharma, Attorney General. “That’s why just last week we secured a federal commitment to make legislative changes to the Criminal Code that would add stronger provisions on repeat violent offenders and some firearm offences. At the same time, we’re making changes here in B.C. to strengthen enforcement and improve services to make our communities safer and healthier for everyone.”

The initiative will be enhanced by improved monitoring of violent offenders, which will focus on improving public safety through early intervention in cases involving certain people. This co-ordinated approach will assist Crown counsel in making informed decisions about charge assessments and prosecutions through improved information-sharing from investigative and supervision agencies to Crown counsel. 

To help make sure people can access the supports they need, teams will provide enhanced release planning that connects them with community programs, including mental-health services, to help break the cycle of reoffending.

The Safer Community Action Plan aligns with recommendations from several community safety reports, including the Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act and the BC First Nations Justice Strategy.

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