Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran is praising B.C. Attorney General David Eby’s plan to crackdown on prolific offenders amid current crime rates in the city sparking frustration from locals and business owners.
“Kelowna’s high property crime rates are attributable in large part to prolific offenders,” Basran said Thursday (May 5).
The province announced Wednesday that it has hired two experts on urban crime to find solutions to deal with the problem, in response to concerns raised by several city mayors across B.C.
In December 2021, Kelowna RCMP identified 15 people who had 1,039 negative contacts with police in the first 11 months of the year, about three contacts with police every two weeks for each individual.
One particular offender has generated 346 RCMP files since 2016 and received 29 convictions for property crime and assault offences.The individual has “no-go” conditions to 11 businesses but has been routinely released with conditions and continues to re-offend.
Basran, who is co-chair of the B.C. Urban Mayor’s Caucus, sent a letter to Eby and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth last month expressing concern with “repeat offenders’ criminal activity and the catch-and-release justice cycle.”
“BC Prosecution Service statistics reveal it is receiving fewer files to review, taking longer to conclude those files, approving police recommended charges less often, and forwarding fewer cases to the courts where fewer people are found guilty and stays of proceeding are increasing,” said Darren Caul, Kelowna’s director of community safety.
Caul added the data indicates a system that is under-resourced and strained, leading to frustrated communities, discouraged police officers, a lack of accountability for those who commit crimes and reduced confidence in the justice system.
The city sees the government’s recent announcement to establish complex care facilities for those with addictions and mental health issues as a good start and a great example of the evolving collaboration between municipalities and the province.
However, these added resources are not in place today and not all prolific offenders require or will accept voluntary treatment or support, so mandatory measures must be considered, read a statement from the city.
“This is a complex issue and we need health and justice, together, responding to stop these individuals from constantly reoffending,” added Basran.
The province has appointed retired Metro Vancouver Transit Police Chief Doug LePard and Simon Fraser University Criminologist Amanda Butler to make their recommendations by September.