FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, September 12, 2023
Vancouver, B.C. – Today, BC United leader Kevin Falcon announced his “Safer B.C.” plan to restore public safety, close David Eby’s revolving door of justice, and put the interests of law-abiding British Columbians first.
“After six years on the job, the NDP has continuously failed in fulfilling one of its fundamental duties — keeping people safe. The endless cycle of chronic repeat offenders, arrested and released without consequences, has emboldened criminals and left British Columbians living in fear,” said Kevin Falcon, BC United Leader. “Our streets and public places belong to the public, not criminals. BC United will get back to putting British Columbians’ rights to safety ahead of the rights of violent criminals to re-offend.”
Under the NDP, B.C. has seen a 75 per cent increase in the rate of no-charge assessments, where individuals caught committing crimes are released with no charges. In Vancouver alone, this has led to the same 40 people being responsible for 6,385 negative police interactions in just one year, and an average of four people a day being subjected to random stranger attacks. The NDP’s catch-and-release program is compounded by a lack of adequate supports and treatment and rehabilitation programs for offenders with mental health and complex behavioural issues, increasing their entanglement with the justice system.
As a result, police have been forced to become the social safety net for our province. BC United’s plan addresses the root causes of crime and lets the police get back to policing.
“Under the NDP, the system is not working for anyone except criminals, while law-abiding citizens are no longer able to enjoy public parks and amenities, or in many cases even walk our streets without fear,” added Falcon. “Enough is enough. It is time for decisive change that balances compassion and consequences, and puts community safety ahead of a criminal’s right to re-offend. Together with our ‘Better is Possible’ mental health and addictions plan announced earlier this year, BC United’s public safety plan will help deliver that change.”
A Kevin Falcon-led government would immediately pursue the following initiatives:
- Aggressively fill 500 police vacancies across the province: Aggressively fill existing police vacancies by accelerating investments to ensure local police agencies have the resources they need to attract and retain more officers, such as hiring bonuses and housing allowances to offset the high cost of living in many jurisdictions. Expand police training options and capacity, including working with the federal government to allow basic training for RCMP officers to take place in B.C. so that new recruits train here and stay here.
- End the NDP’s failed and reckless decriminalization of illicit drugs: Put an immediate end to the NDP’s decriminalization of illicit drugs and a complete ban on open drug use in parks, playgrounds, beaches and public spaces.
- Alternative sentencing and rehabilitation: Individuals facing sentencing will be presented with a choice between traditional incarceration or secure treatment. This initiative includes constructing new facilities and repurposing existing prison spaces, making it possible to offer addiction and mental health services within BC Correctional institutions. The primary objective is to ensure that individuals released from the corrections system do not re-enter society with unresolved addiction issues.
- Treat all crimes seriously: Restore accountability and pursue consequences for all crimes, including shoplifting, bike theft and vandalism, rather than ignoring minor offences, and expand community service as a required option for sentencing for minor offences. Not every offence requires jail time, but all crimes should have consequences.
- Pursue civil consequences for trafficking of drugs causing death: Pursue civil litigation against dealers in cases where they sell lethal drugs that result in death by overdose. If servers can be held legally responsible for customers who drive drunk, traffickers who sell fatal drugs like fentanyl, carfentanil and W-18 should be held accountable too.
“Instead of addressing the root causes of crime, David Eby and the NDP have carelessly imposed a drug decriminalization policy without the proper guardrails or treatment options resulting in an increase in property crime and violent attacks,” noted Elenore Sturko, BC United Shadow Minister for Mental Health, Addiction, Recovery and Education. “More than half of British Columbians fear becoming victims of crime in their own neighbourhoods. If that’s not a wake-up call for the NDP, I don’t know what is.”
In addition, a Kevin Falcon-led government would restore safe communities in B.C. with the following further initiatives:
Better support for police
- Fund body-worn cameras for all police in B.C.: Ensure all police agencies have the funding they need to implement body-worn cameras and accelerate the approval process for other new equipment. Body-worn cameras protect the public and police alike, providing accountability and transparency, and should be in place for all agencies.
- Dedicated hate crime team: Provide funding to enable a unit of dedicated liaison officers in all cities, regardless of size, to work with community-led resource groups to reduce hate-motivated crimes against minority and marginalized communities.
- Crackdown on bail offenders: End the NDP’s practice of seeking detention in only half of the cases for prolific offenders who violate bail conditions, and direct Crown counsel to prosecute criminal charges for all instances of breach of release provisions, probation orders and failure to appear in court.
- More prosecutors and contractors to fill gaps: Aggressively address the shortage of Crown prosecutors, including contracting with private-sector external counsel, settling the ongoing contract dispute and reducing the caseload for prosecutors.
- Equal access to courts for all British Columbians: Deploy community courts focused on crimes like shoplifting, vandalism, graffiti, low-level drug dealing and similar minor offences across the province and provide them with greater resources to operate effectively. Pursue consequences for all crimes, even where there is no jail time, including expanding community service as a required option for sentencing for minor offences, to enable mandatory drug treatment, instead of jail time, for convicted drug users. In the event of incarceration, individuals convicted of drug-related offences will be offered incentives aimed at promoting addiction treatment and vocational training programs focused on life skills development.
Getting drugs, organized crime, and gangs off our streets
- Establishing preventative programs to protect vulnerable kids in schools: Focus dollars on schools in high-risk neighbourhoods to ensure targeted after-school sports and similar programs are available to at-risk youth.
- Partnership to reduce drug imports: Foster greater coordination with other western provinces by working with them to form a partnership to monitor and share information on drug dealers and gang conflict, and keep illicit drugs out of B.C.
- Better control illicit drug supplies: Work with the federal government to better control and monitor the importation of precursors used to manufacture illicit drugs.