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Crown gave ‘pushback’ on detaining repeat offenders, B.C. report co-author says

Click to play video: 'Vancouver’s former deputy police chief says he’s gotten push back from Crown over calls to keep chronic offenders in custody'
Vancouver’s former deputy police chief says he’s gotten push back from Crown over calls to keep chronic offenders in custody
With many business owners and operators fed up with crime, Doug LePard says the BC Crown Prosecution Service has pushed back over keeping repeat offenders in custody, including those who continually breach bail conditions. As Kristen Robinson reports, LePard's comments come after he co-authored B.C.'s report on repeat offending and random violence. – Oct 28, 2022

With many business owners and operators fed up with crime, Vancouver’s former deputy police chief said he’s received pushback from the BC Prosecution Service over calls to keep prolific offenders – including those who repeatedly breach bail conditions – in custody.

Doug LePard’s comments come after he co-authored a provincial government-commissioned report on repeat offending and random violence.

JJ Bean cafe founder and CEO John Neate said there’s a sense criminals can currently act with impunity in our province.

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“Enough’s enough for me,” Neate told Global News in an interview Friday.

“It’s not only broken windows which are expensive, it’s not only vandalism which is expensive, but it’s the lawlessness of behaviour.”

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Three of Neate’s 16 Vancouver JJ Bean locations have been broken into in the last four weeks.

Each window costs an estimated $1,200 to $2,000 to fix but the biggest cost, he said, is the safety of his staff.

Neate, who has eight other stores in Burnaby, North Vancouver, Coquitlam and Port Moody, said he won’t be opening any new locations in Vancouver.

“It’s devastating to watch, to see the city that I have worked in, lived in all my life, to see what’s happening.”

Down the block from Neate’s shop in the Woodward’s Building complex in Gastown, 47-year-old Curtis George McCallum, a convicted killer from Alberta, is accused of mischief for allegedly smashing windows at the same TD bank twice in five weeks.

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“I think it tells us that there’s a lawlessness in society right now,” Neate said.

“People feel they can do what they want without accountability.”

Click to play video: 'Charges against man in random attack brings back troubling memories for Vancouver woman'
Charges against man in random attack brings back troubling memories for Vancouver woman

This is what happens, LePard said, when suspects who’ve repeatedly breached their bail, are not held in custody.

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“This sense of emboldenment that I’m not going to be held in jail and therefore I can do what I want cause I’m going to be released the next day – if I’m even held,” LePard said.

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LePard told an Oct. 25 “Conversations LIVE with Stuart McNish” public forum on street crime in Vancouver that the report’s authors suggested B.C. Crown counsel detain certain suspects.

“You could be a little more assertive at seeking detention for the most incorrigible offenders who breach their conditions over and over and over again, and I have to say, we got pushback on that, about whether that was appropriate,” he said.

According to the Butler-LePard prolific offender report, the number of people receiving jail sentences in B.C. decreased by 40 per cent during the pandemic – from 15,284 admissions in 2019 to 9,165 in 2021.

Click to play video: 'Experts recommend province boost mental health supports to curb repeat offenders'
Experts recommend province boost mental health supports to curb repeat offenders

LePard said other provinces are now remanding people as they did pre-COVID, but they haven’t seen that in B.C. yet.

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“You are going get that sense of lawlessness and emboldening of some offenders, the worst offenders and they are the ones that ought to be detained.”

The BC Prosecution Service declined to comment but said it is examining the 28 recommendations from the report that directly affect the prosecution function.

“Some people it’s a mental illness, some people it’s drug addiction,” said Neate.

“But at the end of the day the public needs to be safe.”

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