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B.C. releases full investigative report into repeat offending

The province is working on three recommendations including a pilot program in Prince George

B.C. has released the full investigative report about the challenges of repeat offending and unprovoked, violent stranger attacks that some communities are facing.

In co-operation with the BC Urban Mayors' Caucus, the province hired experts in mental health and policing, Amanda Butler and Doug LePard, to conduct a rapid investigation into these public safety challenges and recommend evidence-based solutions to keep people and communities safe.

More than 60 experts with practical or academic knowledge contributed to the report, including mayors, police, the BC Prosecution Service, health authorities, the Crown Police Liaison Committee working group and many others. The BC First Nations Justice Council (BCFNJC) provided a written submission to the investigation panel, which is fully endorsed by the investigators.

The full report follows the release of 28 recommendations that were released on Sept. 21, 2022.

The province says many of the report recommendations align with work underway, and the experts said these co-ordinated efforts will make a difference on the ground and in people's lives. 

It is working on three recommendations beginning with bringing back the prolific offender management program that ran from 2008 until 2012. 

The program had success bringing together community partners such as police, mental-health and community support service providers to monitor and help offenders break the cycle of repeat offending and was shown to reduce repeat offending by as much as 40 per cent in the first year.

Secondly, it is working on establishing a dedicated provincial committee to co-ordinate supports for people with complex healthcare needs in the criminal justice system.

Thirdly, it is supporting work by the BCFNJC to develop a pilot program based at the Prince George First Nations Justice Centre to better support Indigenous people who come into conflict with the law.

The BCFNJC said it was pleased with the provinces swift actions in accepting the recommendations.

“We welcome the province’s announcement as a step in the right direction” said BCFNJC Chair Doug White, in a press release.

“Too often the underlying factors driving contact with the criminal justice system go ignored. Funding dedicated to better understanding these factors is limited, and the existing culturally appropriate supports and programs are insufficient. With this pilot, the BCFNJC intends to focus on harm reduction, education, and providing the necessary supports that promote diversion and healing for our people and communities.”

The BCFNJC said that ensuring that individuals can develop and maintain a personal connection at Indigenous Justice Centres s across British Columbia, but especially in Prince George, is important for ensuring that the cycle of harm is no longer repeated and that individuals can grow and heal to find safety and security in a good way.

The full report, as well as the BCFNJC’s submission to the investigative panel is available to view online.