The rise in gang activity and the threats they pose to the community’s safety was a hot topic during a Kelowna roundtable event between government and business representatives.
“Gangs are out of control in British Columbia,” said Ron Cannan, the MP for Kelowna Lake Country, following the Wednesday afternoon meeting where his colleague, MP Kerry Lynne Findlay, the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Justice compiled 20 pages of notes to bring back to Ottawa.
“The RCMP are working very hard, but are very frustrated with the catch-and-release system within our courts.”
Cannan said the RCMP go to great lengths to gather all the information needed to press charges, but when the crown prosecutor doesn’t proceed there’s nothing to hold them accountable.
“We need to ensure all levels of government are working together and there’s discussion among the different agencies,” he said.
That said, the meeting that was billed as a chance for locals to voice their concerns on crime prevention issues included federal representation, Mounties, various business groups and municipal politicians, but no provincial representatives were in attendance—despite their very important role.
“With things like organized crime and medical marijuana … a lot of that falls within provincial jurisdiction and we transfer funds to our provincial partners,” he said.
“We work with legislation to ensure a balanced approach, so there’s funding for prevention, treatment and enforcement and education.”
Taking that tack could further reduce crime rates, he said, noting “some sectors of crime have dropped, but others have increased, such as domestic violence, violence against children and violent offenders.”
Statistics Canada reported that the overall volume of crime has declined steadily since 1991, and dipped six per cent in 2011.
That same year Canadian police services recorded about two million Criminal Code incidents which represents a drop of about 110,000 incidents from 2010. There were declines in crime for most offences including homicide, sexual offences and drug offences.