First steps in dealing with chronic repeat offenders

Non-police response teams and psychiatric nurses in court among the recommendations

A report commissioned by the provincial government has come up with dozens of recommendations to address the escalating issue of chronic repeat criminal offenders.

The report, released Wednesday, comes after calls for action by the BC Mayors Caucus, who have seen a surge in repeat offences by a small but significant group of individuals, some of which are violent and unprovoked.

The crime is driven largely by drug addiction and mental health disorders, and has led to police and community frustration.

In Kelowna, for example, RCMP identified 15 people who had 1,039 negative contacts with police in the first 11 months of last year. One particular offender in Kelowna has, since 2016, generated 346 RCMP files and received 29 convictions for property crime and assault offences.

The expert authors of the report, entitled: ‘A Rapid Investigation into Repeat Offending and Random Stranger Violence in British Columbia’ have called on government to implement various measures.

Recommended action

This includes: investment in civilian-led (non-police) mental health crisis response teams, the creation of Crisis Response and Stabilization Centres, and the provincial courts assigning a dedicated forensic psychiatric nurse (or health professional with the relevant forensic psychiatry training).

Other recommendations include researching the potential for advocating with the Government of Canada for legislation similar to the UK’s “restricted patient” laws. The purpose would be to create a mechanism to divert accused people with serious mental disorders from the criminal system to the forensic system or low secure care.

The report also calls for a return of the prolific offender management model to monitor and better support repeat offenders in the community. The program operated as pilot programs in B.C. communities from 2008-2012. This is one of the recommendations the provincial government said it would proceed with immediately.

The report authors, Amanda Butler and Doug LePard, said many of the recommendations will require significant analysis and legislative work to ensure they are the most effective and efficient action to address the identified areas of concern.

Unprovoked stranger attacks have been a concern particularly in Vancouver and Victoria. In Vancouver, stranger attacks in 2021/2022 increased by 35% compared to 2019/2020, coinciding with the COVID pandemic.

Stakeholders confirmed that the number of people presenting with methamphetamine induced psychosis has “skyrocketed” in emergency departments across BC.

Published 2022-09-21 by Glenn Hicks

Get a fresh daily look

See what’s happening in and around our city, and the people who call it home.

Our newsroom abides by the RTNDA Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct and follows the Canadian Press Stylebook. If you have any questions or concerns, or would like to send us a news tip, please contact us.

Kelowna10 is division of Pattison Media, and strives to achieve the highest ethical standards in all that we do.