B.C. businesses want governments to get tougher on crime | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C. businesses want governments to get tougher on crime

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B.C. businesses say it's time for action from all levels of government to deal with crime "plaguing" cities across the province.

Whether it's Kamloops, Kelowna, Vancouver or Prince George, a B.C.-wide business association wants governments to get tougher on crime and improve public safety federal, provincial and municipal governments to take action on public safety in B.C., according to a news release from the business association.

“This is a collective crisis, and we need a collective response," Teri Smith, president of the Business Improvement Areas of B.C., said in the release.

Some of the province's largest cities are finding the source of most crime comes from a subset of prolific offenders.

READ MORE: Kamloops cops get more proactive with repeat offenders

In 13 B.C. cities, 200 offenders accounted for 11,000 police files just last year. In Kelowna, police recorded more than 1,000 "negative interactions" with just 15 offenders.

As the province prepares to release a study on prolific offenders, B.C. municipal leaders are discussing "public safety reform" on Monday in Whistler.

The first day of the 2022 Union of B.C. Municipalities convention includes several hours of presentations on policing, homelessness and drug decriminalization on Sept. 12.

"At the municipal level, (the business association) is challenging all mayoral and council candidates in the October civic elections to make a commitment to support core funding that will mitigate main street issues," the news release reads.

It includes increasing police funding, street lighting, sanitation, anti-graffiti programs and bylaw enforcement as key funding demands.

READ MORE: Crime rates in Okanagan, Kamloops skyrocketing on all fronts

A Downtown Kelowna on-call street service is getting an "unprecedented" amount of calls for crime and street issues, Mark Burley of the Downtown Kelowna Association said.

"Our Clean Team is constantly cleaning, as the street population move from space to space, and escalating crime affects businesses via theft, break-and-enters and broken street-facing windows," he said in the release. "Most alarming and frustrating, is the rate of repeat break-ins and incidents performed by repeat offenders.”

As crime rates go up in Kamloops, criminal charges are actually going down, but Kamloops RCMP is redeploying its Crime Reduction Unit later this month. As the detachment blames the rise in crime to a small group of repeat offenders, the unit will be tasked with dealing with those criminals who continue to offend even while released on bail from other charges.

While municipalities fund policing and bylaw enforcement, the business association wants the federal and provincial government to step in.

READ MORE: Penticton most crime ridden city in Thompson-Okanagan and much of B.C.

“Above all, we need a bi-partisan approach to this complex issue that is having a detrimental impact on us all," Patricia Barnes of the business association said. "Simply talking about these issues and deflecting to other levels of government is getting us nowhere.”

The provincial study on prolific offenders was expected on Sept. 2, but it's been delayed to "mid-September," according to the province.

It's set to include justice reform recommendations for the courts, police and municipalities to better address repeat offenders.

"To ensure actions can be implemented as soon as possible, the province has agreed to release the recommendations and an executive summary in mid-September before the full report," an Aug. 25 news release from Attorney General Murray Rankin reads. "Government is committed to working with mayors and all other partners to find ways to improve safety for all British Columbians, both immediately and in the long term."

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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