Premier Eby outlines new public safety plan

By Times Chronicle Staff

Freshly minted BC Premier David Eby is taking aim at repeat violent offenders with the launch of a new Safer Communities Action Plan focusing on two tracks: enforcement and intervention services.

The new measures are in response to a rise in repeat violent offending which the Province says are linked to “unintended impacts of federal law changes and subsequent Supreme Court decisions.”

BC and other provinces and territories continue to pressure the federal government to address the consequences of changes to the federal bail system that have made it more difficult to hold people in custody while they await trial for repeat, violent offences.  

The measures are also in response to the increased mental health and addiction challenges brought on by the pandemic and the toxic drug crisis.

In a sign that the Province is hardening its stance on repeat violent offenders, enforcement measures are to be stepped up as will community services.

“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,” said Eby. 

The two track focus is enabled by what he says will be improved coordination between law enforcement, community service organizations, justice system, health providers and people who are recovering from addiction and mental health challenges. 

This, he adds, will tap a “collaborative, coordinated approach to address the issues people are seeing in their communities.” 

New measures announced include:

  • Launching new repeat violent offender coordinated response teams, made up of police, and dedicated prosecutors and probation officers;
  • Expanding mental health crisis response teams into more communities so police can focus on crime, and people in crisis are met early on by healthcare workers and community members;  
  • Taking the next steps in creating a new model of addictions care at St. Paul’s Hospital so people can seamlessly move from crisis response in the emergency room, to detox, to treatment services, in partnership with Vancouver Coastal Health and Providence Health Care, with plans to expand this model in the future;  
  • Opening 10 new Indigenous Justice Centres to provide culturally appropriate support for Indigenous Peoples involved in the justice system to address the root causes of their involvement in the system and help them break the cycle;
  • Going after the houses, cars and luxury goods of high-level organized criminals who profit on misery by introducing “unexplained wealth order” legislation in spring 2023; and
  • Building public confidence in the prosecution system with new direction from the attorney general to prosecutors 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 Nov. 22, 2022.
  • The plan also includes better support for people with acquired brain injuries through overdose or other injury, with a focus on those involved in the criminal justice system.

This will be aided by increased funding for the Brain Injury Alliance, more integrated information sharing between justice and community partners to strengthen case management and expanding the use of technology to guide police in gathering and sharing information with doctors and nurses during mental health crisis situations.

The Province noted that these actions align with recommendations from a number of reports on community safety, including the Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act, the First Nations Justice Strategy and the Investigation into Repeat Offending and Random Stranger Violence. 

Other ongoing initiatives aimed at breaking the cycle of repeat offending and building safe and healthy communities include: complex-care housing, new and expanded community transition teams for those leaving correctional facilities, and funding to support work by the BC First Nations Justice Council to develop better, culturally appropriate supports for Indigenous people in the legal system.   

“Everyone deserves to feel safe in their community,” Ebay said. “We are making changes to bring key groups together to keep people and communities safe – ensuring those who commit violent acts face consequences, and creating as many opportunities as possible for them to address mental health and addiction issues to break the cycle of a life in and out of jail.”

Premier Eby outlines new public safety plan Source link Premier Eby outlines new public safety plan

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