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No one surrenders to Halifax police at second give-yourself-up day

October 31, 2017 - 1:02 PM

Halifax police aren't ready to wave the white flag yet on voluntarily surrender days, despite getting no one to turn themselves in last weekend.

Insp. Don Moser said while they are disappointed no one showed up at a community centre in Spryfield on Saturday, the force is still in the exploratory stages of an initiative thought to be the first of its kind in Canada.

The concept has been used in U.S. jurisdictions such as New Jersey.

The first surrender day, held in Dartmouth last April, saw 12 people turn themselves in with the resolution of 19 outstanding warrants.

Moser said police believe in the program, although they would have to analyze why there was no turnout the second time around. He didn't rule out a third try.

"We think it's for the right reasons for sure," said Moser. "That doesn't mean we would continue on at all cost. We'll probably look toward a third evolution of this program so we can do a proper evaluation."

Police say the idea is to provide people facing non-violent charges an opportunity to resolve the warrants voluntarily in a neutral environment, although anyone with outstanding warrants can turn themselves in to police at any time.

Those showing up to surrender are asked for identification and have their fingerprints and photo taken.

Their warrants would likely be replaced with a court date and they would have the opportunity to contact legal aid. Referral information is also made available for various community support services.

Moser said he believes the idea is attractive to those who don't want to end up in the back seat of a police car, or to spend significant time in custody.

"You avoid what could be seen as unfortunate, unplanned contacts with police that could result in you being detained or held in custody for a significantly longer period of time," Moser said.

Moser has previously said police want to reduce the number of outstanding warrants for such offences.

That number in Halifax currently stands at between 680 to 700, he said.

Voluntary surrender is not an amnesty program, and people would still have to appear in court at a later date to answer to pending charges.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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