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 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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Motorists breaking travel rules can be fined $230 for failing to follow instructions or $575 if the reason for travel violates the essential travel health order, at this Highway 3 check area near Manning Park. Photo RCMP
RCMP begin stopping drivers on BC highways – check point at Manning Park

Four check points are set up Thursday May 6 around the province

The Aquilini Investment Group has agreed to a proposed contract of five years to run the Abbotsford Centre. (File photo)
Proposal to run Abbotsford Centre offered to Canucks ownership group

Planned five-year contract to cost city $750K annually, starting Jan. 1, 2022

Two locations marked in red on the map show where alcohol can be consumed in Vedder Park starting in June. (City of Chilliwack)
Chilliwack council approves continued alcohol consumption in Vedder Park

After last summer’s pilot there were no significant issues arising from alcohol allowed in 2 parks

JANGO the police dog helped track down a suspect on Luckakuck Way in Chilliwack. (RCMP photo)
Alleged thief in Chilliwack can’t fool the nose of JANGO the police dog

An Edmonton man who allegedly broke into a storage container on Luckakuck Way was arrested

Chilliwack RCMP nab two alleged thieves targeting bait vehicle

A man from Port Coquitlam and a woman from Delta were stopped and arrested at Eagle Landing Parkway

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Surrey RCMP is investigating after a serious three-vehicle crash at the intersection of King George Boulevard and 128th Street Thursday afternoon (May 6, 2021). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
VIDEO: Serious crash in Surrey sends 1 to hospital

Surrey RCMP say one of the drivers fled on foot, but was later found at an area hospital

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

John Paul Fraser, executive director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association. (Screen shot)
Salmon farmers warn Surrey jobs on line as feds end Discovery Islands operations

344 full-time jobs at risk in Surrey and 1,189 B.C.-wide

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Most Read