Quesnel city council is planning on adding their voice to the chorus of municipalities asking the B.C. prosecution service to stop prolific offenders from returning to the streets.
Mayor Bob Simpson and city manager Byron Johnson met with B.C.’s attorney general David Eby and solicitor general Mike Farnworth on Wednesday April 27, noting his plans during his report of the city’s public safety and policing committee meeting at a Quesnel city council meeting the day before.
Over the past week dozens of municipalities have called for something to be done about prolific offenders in their communities, sending a letter to Eby at his request.
“We have — increasingly it feels — no consequence for crime in our community, and we are not alone in that,” Simpson said during his report.
“This is not a unique to Quesnel situation, there’s lots of pieces to this.”
Simpson pointed to various potential reasons, including a focus on offering less-severe punishments to first time offenders and constraints on prosecution due to generational trauma and other mental health issues.
“That results in individuals who are not being prosecuted by the justice system, but are also not being supported by the mental health, addictions and social services system, so they end up in our community and our community ends up feeling the brunt of it,” he said.
Simpson noted an “egregious” situation where a person with an ankle monitor and 13 charges pending was caught dealing drugs in downtown Quesnel, and received more charges, only to be released that same day, with even more charges pending.
According to Simpson, Quesnel RCMP are recommending charges, but more often through the years, they are not brought forward by the Crown. He said three per cent of charges did not proceed a few years ago, while 27 per cent of recommended charges were not followed through in 2021.
Simpson said he would be supporting two resolutions from Williams Lake and Terrace at the North Central Local Government Association general meeting calling for stronger sentencing and stricter bail conditions for prolific offenders.
“That small portion of that population is causing a lot of grief for the political capitol we need to do the work on the social services side, to continue to do work on the housing side,” he said.
“By not prosecuting prolific offenders, they’re undermining a lot of the work we’re trying to do.”
The three suggestions the Quesnel delegation brought to the meeting was bringing stricter bail conditions for prolific offenders after they are charged, including holding them in custody until trial, volunteering Quesnel be a pilot for a integrated justice program and asking for further resources be invested in restorative justice.
Simpson will report the results of the meeting during the May 3 city council meeting.
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