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1 week after lawyer attacked, BC Prosecution Service drops private security firm

Click to play video: 'Private security company fired after attack on Crown laywer in Vancouver'
Private security company fired after attack on Crown laywer in Vancouver
A private company that provided security for Crown prosecutors and lawyers has been fired, after an attack on a laywer in Vancouver on Friday. Rumina Daya reports – Feb 8, 2024

Within a week of a Crown prosecutor being attacked on her way to work, the BC Prosecution Service confirms it has let go a private security agent in its employ.

It declined to reveal the name of the firm the dollar value of the contract. It also declined an on-camera interview, and to reveal whether any new mandatory safety protocols are in place for Crown prosecutors.

“The BCPS does not release details about specific security arrangements for its employees. We also cannot release the details of private contracts dealing with safety and security,” communications counsel Damienne Darby wrote.

“Crown Counsel have access to escort assistance from BC Sheriff Service, as well as in-house security personnel.”

Global News has asked the Ministry of Attorney General for comment on this story.

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Click to play video: 'Two women attacked, including B.C. Crown prosecutor'
Two women attacked, including B.C. Crown prosecutor

On Feb. 2, a Crown prosecutor was walking to work at the courthouse at 222 Main St. when she was punched in the face near East Cordova and Main streets. At the time, she was being escorted through Crown counsel’s “safe walk” program.

Another woman was assaulted nearby shortly afterward. Her injuries have not been made public but the lawyer’s required hospital treatment.

A single suspect has been arrested and charged in both attacks, which have heightened public concern about court safety not only in downtown Vancouver but across the province.

Click to play video: 'Two women assaulted in downtown Vancouver'
Two women assaulted in downtown Vancouver

On Monday, the head of the British Columbia Crown Counsel Association floated the idea of permanently closing the provincial courthouse at 222 Main St. and moving its operations to a “safer neighbourhood.”

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“That staff in the courthouse have security guards that walk them to work should be a big red flag about the overall public safety in the Downtown Eastside,” Adam Dalrymple said in a news release.

“It’s not normal to have security walk you to work, and we shouldn’t try to normalize it as though it’s just part of the job.”

In an interview with Global News, he added that safety around the downtown courts is “probably the worst it’s ever been,” having deteriorated quickly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click to play video: 'Violent suspect back on Vancouver streets'
Violent suspect back on Vancouver streets

Premier David Eby has rejected the idea of moving the courthouse. However, both he and Attorney General Niki Sharma have expressed their sympathies and frustration with the attacks.

“I don’t care if you’re Crown counsel or a defence lawyer or a judge or a sheriff or a clerk. Our justice system, to work, needs to ensure that the people who run it are safe — just like our hospitals, just like our bus drivers,” he said on Feb. 2.

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“I will be meeting directly with the Crown Counsel Association as well as the Trial Lawyers Association and others to understand what steps are needed to improve safety in and around our courthouses,” Sharma said via email on Monday.

“There are various factors behind the location of a courthouse, including its proximity to other law enforcement agencies, in-custody centres and other community programs and services. These need to be taken into account to ensure the smooth running of the courts and justice system.”

Click to play video: 'Two suspects wanted in Prince George armed robbery, firearms theft'
Two suspects wanted in Prince George armed robbery, firearms theft

Thirteen new recruits have been added to the BC Sheriff Service, the province announced Monday. There are 89 court locations across the province and a news release did not specify whether any would go to 222 Main St.

The attack last week was not the first safety incident near or inside a B.C. courthouse.

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In November 2023, a woman was sentenced to 12 years behind bars less time served for attacking her rival in a Vancouver courtroom with a hammer and fish knife.

The father of a teen girl murdered in Burnaby in 2017 has also been accused of bringing a gun to a Vancouver courtroom where the girl’s killer was convicted. The father’s lawyer has disputed the claim.

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