A trial courtroom at the Provincial Court of B.C. (Cliff MacArthur/provincialcourt.bc.ca)

A trial courtroom at the Provincial Court of B.C. (Cliff MacArthur/provincialcourt.bc.ca)

Kelowna to address “catch-and-release justice system” through advocacy paper

‘Property crime is, indeed, a significant and real issue for our community’

“We are approaching a precipice in our communities’ safety, sense of safety, and confidence in the criminal justice system.”

That statement is found in a Community Confidence in Justice (CCJ) advocacy paper going before Kelowna council Monday (May 30).

The paper covers topics including property crime, prolific offenders, action taken by the city, and advocacy options. It states a disproportionate amount of property crime in B.C. is committed by offenders who persistently re-offend in a “catch-and-release justice system.”

The 2022 Community Safety Survey found 96 per cent of respondents feel safe in their neighbourhood during the day and 77 per cent feel safe at night, although this reflected a three per cent and five per cent, respectively, decline.

While the city has invested resources in policing, community safety and social development initiatives (see below), the CCJ document submits the provincial and federal governments have significant roles to play through health, housing and justice mandates.

Advocacy action suggested in the paper includes increasing local B.C. Prosecution Service (BCPS) resources, provincial reviews of the 2021 BCPS’ charge assessment guidelines, and bail/adult policies and practices, and city collaboration with the province on advocacy to the federal government.

City of Kelowna Safety Investments:

  • $32 million invested to increase public safety personnel (2016-2022);
  • 84 per cent increase in the RCMP Contract budget ($27.9M in 2016 to $51.4M in 2022);
  • Established Social Development Manager (2017) and Community Safety Director (2019) positions;
  • Sponsor of the Journey Home Strategy;
  • Facilitated the addition of 350+ new supportive housing units and 125+ net new emergency shelter beds;
  • $4M in government grants accessed for social development projects;
  • Launched (2019) and co-leading a cross-sectoral Community Inclusion Team;
  • Supported and advocated for the Kelowna Integrated Court (launched 2021);
  • Developed Complex Needs Advocacy Paper (2021);
  • Leading Kelowna’s first Community Safety Plan (2022): a five-year action plan in collaboration with government and community partners.

Read More: Kelowna residents worry about rising crime, but love their neighbours

Read More: Car crashes into Lake Country home


@GaryBarnes109
gary.barnes@kelownacapnews.com

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