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Kelowna, B.C. seeks ‘appropriate levels of consequence and monitoring’ of prolific offenders

Click to play video: 'Kelowna report suggests changes to address prolific offenders' Kelowna report suggests changes to address prolific offenders
The province should be making changes to the justice system to address prolific property crime offenders. That's the argument at the core of a Kelowna city staff report that will be presented to council on Monday. – May 27, 2022

Kelowna city council is looking to senior levels of government to help get a handle on property criminals who, according to a new report,  “persistently re-offend, unabated by a catch-and-release justice system.”

“Prolific property offenders are responsible for an overwhelming portion of property crime incidents, and present extreme pressures on finite police resources,” Kelowna RCMP Supt. Kara Triance said in a press release that precedes a report that will be presented to city council on Monday.

Click to play video: 'Kelowna RCMP vacant staffing levels around 20 per cent: BC RCMP says' Kelowna RCMP vacant staffing levels around 20 per cent: BC RCMP says
Kelowna RCMP vacant staffing levels around 20 per cent: BC RCMP says – May 18, 2022

“This is particularly true for these offenders, and those who are persistently committing crime.”

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Supporting that view is a stat found in December 2021 by RCMP Southeast District, which reviewed 15 offenders who had 1,039 negative contacts with police in the first 11 months. One offender was responsible for generating 346 RCMP files since 2016, an average of more than one per week for six years.

Read more: Kelowna RCMP: 20 per cent vacancy levels remain a challenge

The report that will be discussed at the Monday council meeting aims to get council to amend the advocacy framework priorities to include advocacy to senior levels of government in how it deals with challenges presented by prolific offenders and, specifically, the catch-and-release cycle of the justice system.

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“This paper seeks to illuminate the issue and impact of prolific property offenders to generate awareness, discussion, and an agenda for advocacy within the purview of the Provincial Government, including the need and opportunity for increased local BC Prosecution Service resources, including dedicated Crown for prolific offender files; provincial review of the 2021 BCPS’ Charge Assessment Guidelines, including its full disclosure policies; increased data accessibility within BCPS’ annual reports; provincial review of the 2021 BCPS’ Bail – Adult Policies and/or its practices; and city collaboration with the provincial government on advocacy to the federal government,” the report reads.

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Read more: Kelowna RCMP superintendent calls for more officers

The City of Kelowna has already invested in policing and community safety resources.

Since 2016, the city added 47 RCMP members, 40 support staff and nine bylaw officers. Today, the RCMP contract budget is 84-per cent higher than it was in 2016, according to the city.

In the 2022 Financial Plan, community safety reflected the largest budget investment and accounted for 35 per cent of the plan.

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Kelowna cops facing backlog in charge process, diminished partner resources – Mar 2, 2022

The city also acknowledged other resources aimed at dealing with the issue. It, however, still sees room for change.

“The City of Kelowna understands the complex nature of offending and supports a balanced approach,” said Darren Caul, community safety director.

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“Providing adequate care for those whose criminal activity is fuelled by addictions and mental health is paramount. However, not all prolific property offenders can be managed solely through a health-care response — some are entrenched in a cycle and are unable to be supported through existing systems of rehabilitation and care.

“These individuals are having a negative impact on the local business community and eroding the sense of public safety and trust in justice by residents in all our communities. We need our justice system to be adequately resourced and responsive to ensure appropriate levels of consequence and monitoring of these individuals to ensure safety for all.”

Click to play video: 'Kelowna RCMP vacant staffing levels around 20 per cent: BC RCMP says' Kelowna RCMP vacant staffing levels around 20 per cent: BC RCMP says
Kelowna RCMP vacant staffing levels around 20 per cent: BC RCMP says – May 18, 2022

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