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BC government 'working across all fronts to make communities safer' amid surge in violent crime

The British Columbia government has said Ottawa has committed to “addressing repeat offending” across Canada.

Attorney General Murray Rankin and Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth had two days of “productive meetings” with their federal, provincial and territorial counterparts, the Province said today.

It comes amid a surge in crime across Canada and BC, with a recent survey finding that citizens are losing faith in the police and courts.

Rankin said that “everyone deserves to feel safe in their communities.”

He added: “Through conversations with my provincial and territorial counterparts, it's clear that repeat offending and violent stranger attacks are a major concern right across the country as unintended consequences of recent federal law changes and subsequent Supreme Court decisions.

<who> Photo credit: 123RF

"These national changes have made it more difficult to hold violent offenders in custody while they are awaiting trial. The federal government is now aware of the seriousness of this issue across Canada and has committed to working with us to urgently address these issues."

Earlier this month, Rankin said it was “futile” to arrest more people in the fight against increasing violent crime.

He said then: "We are committed to ending the cycle of reoffending and keeping people from becoming offenders in the first place.”

The BC government said the other participants in the recent meeting agreed to an “urgent followup meeting” to consider “concrete national proposals” to address bail, violent offenders and recidivism.

Ottawa has also committed to exploring “financing options” for the provinces and territories, the BC government explained.

It added: “These efforts will also take into account shared commitments to reduce the over-incarceration of Indigenous Peoples and racialized people, and address the root causes of crime.”

In December 2019, federal Bill C75 introduced amendments to the Criminal Code to address the disproportionate representation in the criminal justice system of Indigenous and racialized people by giving primary consideration to the release of accused persons at the earliest reasonable opportunity, on the least onerous conditions that are appropriate for the circumstance.

Subsequent Supreme Court decisions have confirmed that pretrial detention is the exception and pretrial release on bail is the rule.

"We're working across all fronts to make communities safer in BC," Farnworth said.

"We're already moving forward on the expert recommendations we received earlier this month, but we're hearing that these same challenges are happening right across the country.”

He added: “I am glad the federal government is on board and willing to do their part by bringing concrete national proposals forward around bail provisions to help improve public safety for all Canadians."

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