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B.C. Liberals say 4-month study too long for downtown crime

Chronic offender prosecutors suggested by Crown counsel
B.C. Liberal MLA Todd Stone speaks to reporters at his legislature office, May 5, 2022. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press Media)

Opposition MLAs were quick to condemn Attorney General David Eby’s announcement Thursday to do a four-month expert study of chronic offenders who are wreaking havoc on downtown areas of B.C. cities.

“The Attorney General said this week that he was going to start taking some action,” B.C. Liberal house leader Todd Stone said May 5, after Eby announced the study. “And apparently the best that the NDP can do is commission a report that will take 120 days or four months to be finished, that they may or may not act upon.

“To put this into perspective, there are on average four random assaults in the city of Vancouver every single day. At that pace, over the next four months, there could be nearly 500 additional random assaults during this period of time when this government is going to wait for a report to be done.”

The province has appointed retired police chief Doug LePard and Simon Fraser University criminologist Amanda Butler to make recommendations by September, but Eby said if they find solutions that will help with chronic offenders committing hundreds of crimes in downtown areas of the province, they can be implemented right away.

Those proposed solutions include specialized Crown prosecutors dealing with “prolific offenders,” whom mayors say are mostly either mentally ill addicts or “career criminals” who shoplift and break into businesses.

B.C. Crown Counsel Association president Kevin Marks said Thursday said prosecutors have a role to play.

“There are a number of immediate solutions that could be considered, including assigning a team of special chronic offender prosecutors to exclusively handle the cases of the best-known repeat offenders,” Marks said. “By knowing the history and background of these offenders, they can better assist the court on making decisions that do not allow these offenders to freely commit crime while out on bail.”

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