BC Prosecution Service Chief Releases Statement Defending Justice System

“The fact is that overall crime rates in British Columbia are about as low as they have been for many years.” — Assistant Deputy Attorney General Peter Juk

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In an unusual move, the head of BC’s prosecution service released a statement in response to what he says is recent public criticism of the criminal justice system.

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“The criminal justice system has recently been the subject of much public discussion,” Assistant Deputy Attorney General Peter Juk said at the start of his statement.

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“Politicians at all levels, as well as police officers, members of the public and the media have repeatedly raised concerns about public safety, ‘prolific offenders’ and random acts of violence. This seems to have given the impression that the overall crime rate is on the rise throughout British Columbia.

The statement does not reference any specific comments from anyone and a spokesperson for the BC Prosecution Service, which determines whether criminal prosecutions are pending in the province, could not be reached.

But Vancouver police have raised concerns about random assaults and cited statistics showing there were four assaults by strangers per day from September 1, 2020 to August 31, 2021.

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And in August, in response to an incident where a suspect set fire to an apartment before attacking its residents with a machete, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart called on the BC government to reform the system. judiciary to deal with prolific offenders.

The mayor also called on the government to address the “urgent” need for more mental health services in the city.

In his statement, Juk said concerns about crime and public safety are a normal feature of public discourse, but noted that the “sharper focus” on issues this year is understandable given that society is emerging from more two years of a global pandemic with an assortment of impacts.

“We are in the grip of a toxic addiction and opioid crisis that has lasted for more than seven years,” he said.

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“We are in the running for municipal elections this fall. The police are increasingly called upon to respond to people suffering from mental health crises, while facing calls for “defunding”.

While much of the recent discussion has focused on “prolific offenders,” a label with no clear legal definition, the term can mean different things to different people, Juk said.

“Crown prosecutors in British Columbia always consider the particular circumstances of each accused or offender and the particular circumstances of each offense, whenever assessing charges, formulating a position on bail or determining the position of the sentence after conviction,” he said. .

Juk noted that against the backdrop of random violent attacks and “prolific offenders”, some claimed crime rates were out of control and the criminal justice system was broken.

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“The fact is that overall crime rates in British Columbia are about as low as they have been for many years,” he said, adding that he did not believe the system was broken down.

kfraser@postmedia.com

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