B.C., mayors launch probe to crack down on repeat offenders, random attacks

Click to play video: 'Province hires two experts to help with growing public safety concerns'
Province hires two experts to help with growing public safety concerns
Shifting crime patterns over the past two years have taken a concerning and on-going toll on many communities across the province, particularly the downtown core. Now two experts have been tasked with helping the province decide how to tackle the issue. As Richard Zussman reports, those on the frontline of the chaos feel the move lacks urgency. – May 5, 2022

The B.C. government has launched an investigation into a surge in crime connected to repeat offenders in the province.

The province, in co-operation with the BC Urban Mayors’ Caucus, has hired two experts to investigate and report on prolific offenders and random violent attacks.

Click to play video: 'B.C. government launches investigation aimed to curb crimes committed by repeat offenders'
B.C. government launches investigation aimed to curb crimes committed by repeat offenders

The investigation will be led by health researcher and criminologist Amanda Butler, and former Vancouver deputy police chief Doug LePard.

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Read more: B.C. mayors call on province for more consequences for repeat offenders

In April, B.C.’s urban mayors sent detailed information to the province on shifting crime patterns during the pandemic that were particularly hurting downtown retail areas.

“Simply because we are compassionate, concerned and taking action on mental health and addiction issues does not mean that we have to accept criminal behaviour, vandalism, or violence in our communities,” Attorney General David Eby said Thursday.

“We agree with the mayors that creative solutions within our authority are needed.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. committee recommends ditching RCMP, creating provincial force'
B.C. committee recommends ditching RCMP, creating provincial force

This investigation and recommendation structure are similar to actions taken by the province to address money laundering, as well as the financial crisis at ICBC.

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The report is scheduled to be returned to the province within 120 days.

If investigators come up with possible solutions while conducting their work, they can bring those forward early and the province will consider immediate implementation. As part of the investigation, specific proposals already received by the government will be considered for both effectiveness, and the feasibility of their implementation.

Read more: Minister flags ‘creative’ plan for repeat offenders after being called soft on crime

“We know that some, not all, prolific offenders experience mental health and substance-use challenges, and for these individuals, a path to care and treatment is needed to address the root cause of the problem,” Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said.

“It will be through courageous leadership and the continued co-operation of all levels of government that solutions of adequate care and consequences will address prolific-offender crime in our cities.”

Click to play video: 'Vancouver’s top cop wants better provincial response to social issues fuelling public safety concerns'
Vancouver’s top cop wants better provincial response to social issues fuelling public safety concerns

Since 2017, there has been an increase of 118 per cent in the amount of time the province takes to review files it receives from police. The rate of BC Prosecution Service decisions not charge suspects based on police cases has also increased 75 per cent, in according to the  BC Urban Mayors’ Caucus letter.

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The sharp increase in repeat offences has largely been centered around downtown cores, while the province has seen a drop-off in repeat offences in residential neighbourhoods.

“As the mayors of B.C.’s large urban cities, we are at ground zero of hearing the frustration and seeing the consequential impacts that repeat property offenders are having on our communities, local businesses and residents’ sense of safety,” Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran said.

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