Lack of addiction treatment flagged by crime panel

Prolific crime tied to drugs, alcohol, mental health issues, report urges probe of 'predatory' recovery houses

A new report titled Getting Serious About Crime Reduction is the result of a blue ribbon panel appointed by Justice Minister Suzanne Anton.

A blue ribbon panel on crime reduction has urged the province to concentrate even more on the few prolific offenders who commit most offences and expand drug addiction treatment and services for the mentally ill.

Chaired by Abbotsford South MLA and criminologist Darryl Plecas, the panel appointed by Justice Minister Suzanne Anton also urges the province to appoint a senior crime fighting leader to get different agencies to work better together.

The province has already passed legislation that will allow it to force holdout municipalities to join specialized policing teams, such as the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.

The panel report said lack of access for drug and alcohol addiction treatment was “a major issue” it heard across the province, and was told that in Port Hardy, for example, 500 people needed treatment but there were only six treatment beds.

“The lack of funding for abstinence-based and other recovery support programs was described as a serious issue everywhere and as one of the main reasons for the high rates of recidivism observed across the province amongst offenders suffering from substance abuse disorder.”

The report recommends spending more money on drug addiction treatment and mental health services, citing estimates that every dollar spent curing addiction cuts drug related-crime and justice costs by up to $7, and $12 if health care costs are counted.

The report also calls for a task force to probe problems with the proliferation of unlicensed and sometimes “predatory” drug recovery houses.

It noted there are 240 drug recovery houses in the Fraser Health region but just eight are properly licensed.

Jail doesn’t stop persistent offenders, the report said, adding it’s “particularly ineffective” with the severely addicted or mentally ill.

More than two-thirds of offenders in the corrections system in 2012 were repeat offenders, and 40 per cent had 10 or more convictions.

Police have been targeting prolific offenders as pilot projects for several years in Surrey, Prince George, Williams Lake, Kamloops, Victoria and Nanaimo.

Analysts sift data to anticipate repeat crimes, identified chronic offenders are watched more closely on release and they get social supports that help them break away from the crime track.

The re-offence rate of those those career criminals dropped 40 per cent in the first year after release, while more of them took up offers of housing and social services, and had less contact with police.

The report recommends that approach be taken province-wide, noting crime rates in B.C. have fallen faster than anywhere else in North America, in part because of crime reduction strategies.

The province should also aim to monitor more offenders with electronic ankle bracelets, the report said, and improve rehabilitation and treatment programs for inmates.

The province has not yet committed to act on the report.

Anton said one new step under consideration is a regional integrated community safety partnership pilot project that would bring together various agencies to refocus resources, but where and how it might unfold is to be determined.

She also pledged to expand job training for offenders to help them return to society.

SFU criminologist Rob Gordon called expanded use of wraparound services to help offenders re-enter society a “sensible approach.”

But he said the report had few surprises and mainly recommended “more of the same” – including more use of integrated police teams rather than any more radical police service reform.

“It still does not address the hot spot areas where crime has been a major problem, the most obvious one being Surrey,” Gordon said.

Just Posted

‘I feel ready for it’: On a BMX, Surrey man is ‘Cycling for Sobriety’ across Canada

Mat Fee will depart Halifax on May 1 to raise money and awareness for John Volken Academy

Surrey prayer vigil planned to honour hundreds killed in Sri Lanka bombings

The event is set for 6:30 p.m. Monday night at Holland Park

Gas prices in Metro Vancouver hit 172.9 cents a litre

And one analyst expects it to only go higher this week

Senior swimmer leads White Rock Wave with world record at provincial championships

Betty Brussel, 95, sets new world mark in 200-m breaststroke at Victoria meet

Semiahmoo students to raise awareness about acid throwing

The Grade 11 students are to host a fundraiser for victims

Sri Lanka invokes war-time military powers after nearly 300 killed in Easter bombings

Sri Lanka’s minister of tourism says 39 foreign tourists were killed in the Easter Sunday attacks

Torched SUV linked to Vancouver’s fourth homicide

Manoj Kumar, 30, was found dead from gunshot wounds in the Kitsilano neighbourhood

Multiple sailing waits as BC Ferries deals with Easter Monday traffic

89 extra sailings had been added to the long weekend schedule

Ex-mayor of northern village claims its drivers are overpaying ICBC $1,800 a year

Darcy Repen says data shows Telkwa households are being ripped off for car insurance

Deadly synthetic drug found in Kamloops that puts users in ‘zombielike’ state

Interior Health warning says substance causes ‘speedy, trippy-like symptoms’ and hallucinations

Chilliwack library hosting Star Wars-themed escape room

Participants asked to summon the force for week-long attraction

Trudeau to be portrayed on ‘Simpsons’ episode

Toronto journalist who’s posted videos of himself doing impressions of the PM voiced him for the show

Elizabeth May’s wedding dress a ‘walk through a garden’ on Earth Day

Green Party leader set to get married in Victoria

5 to start your day

Gas prices soar to new heights, no major incidents at Vancouver’s 4/20, and more

Most Read

l -->