Police and the City of Surrey have investigated following a woman's report that she was filmed while showering at the Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre.

EDITORIAL: Punishment… an afterthought

Two crimes are alleged. Two punishments are said to be meted out in relatively short order. But has justice been served?

One man is identified as the alleged owner of a pit bull after his uncontrolled dog savagely attacked a woman in North Surrey last week.

His punishment: his dog is euthanized.

One man is identified after he is alleged to have recorded a video of a woman showering in the change rooms at the Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre in South Surrey this week.

His punishment: a ban from using city facilities.

Justice may be relatively swift in both these cases, but is either in any real sense just?

In the first case, on June 20, the dog tore through the victim’s arm, leaving bone exposed. When its handler stepped in, he grabbed hold of his pet’s leash and reportedly told the woman he was taking his dog home.

For this, the accused receives no criminal charges, no fines and is not held accountable in any formal process. In fact, as Surrey’s manager of bylaw enforcement acknowledged, there is nothing to stop the dog owner from getting a new pet and returning to our streets.

In the second case, last Sunday, the accused was identified by city staff and his alleged actions prompted a review of “everything” – including cellphone use – at the new facility, leaving the victim and others feeling vulnerable, with some questioning the rationale of a universal change room.

For this, the accused receives no criminal charges, no fines and is not held accountable in any formal process. In fact, police advise that they have no concerns for public safety, and there is nothing to stop the pool user from finding new non-City of Surrey facilities and returning to our public change rooms.

In neither case was the accused identified publicly. Either could be your neighbour.

There seems to be an acceptance in our province that the justice system works at an excruciatingly slow pace, and that delays and other factors make it difficult to convict.

But accepting this – in these cases and so many others – leaves perpetrators out in the street and new victims vulnerable.

The public is not at risk? We can only hope police are right.

It’s high time our elected officials say ‘enough’, and that those presumed guilty of crimes are given a chance to defend themselves in a timely manner, and those who are found guilty by a court of law are adequately punished to truly keep our communities safe.

 

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