REALITY CHECK: Falcon on crime: Can we really trust him?

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Kevin Falcon says he wants to “continue” the B.C. Liberals’ approach to tackling crime – an approach that has led the government’s own Progress Board to criticise the province for having the third-highest crime rate in the country. The B.C. Liberal approach has been little more than broken promises and a continued failure to back up rhetoric with the resources necessary to get the job done.

  • On the root causes of crime: Kevin Falcon and the B.C. Liberals have failed to address the root causes of crime, including poverty and mental illness. Under Falcon’s watch, B.C. has had the worst rate of child poverty in the country for seven years running. Despite the fact that he had the opportunity to implement key recommendations of the ‘Lost in Transition’ report like an Urgent Response Centre, Falcon failed to act.
  • On fighting gangs: The B.C. Liberals gave great lip service to a campaign against gang violence, yet failed to provide the new resources necessary. Rather than hiring any additional staff, they simply shuffled around special prosecutors and police, allowing for new gaps that could let criminals get away with crimes.
  • On crown prosecutors: Despite repeated commitments to add 10 prosecutors to deal with increasing gang violence, Kevin Falcon and the B.C. Liberals didn’t actually add a single new position. As B.C. Crown Counsel Association President Samiran Lakshman said recently, “what we've seen is a systematic stripping of the criminal justice system from not filling Provincial Court Justice positions, to cutting legal aid, to stripping the Crown offices of the ability to do our job and what that means is that we have a ticking time bomb” (CBC Early Edition, Dec. 20, 2010).
  • On overcrowded prisons: Under Kevin Falcon and the B.C. Liberals, our prisons are increasingly overcrowded, putting both staff and inmates at risk. Pre-trial facilities are 200 per cent over capacity, with an estimated 40 inmates per staff member at Fraser Regional. Violence inside facilities is a serious concern and has increased by 37 per cent over the last five years.

The B.C. New Democrats have been calling for a comprehensive approach to address both gang violence and the root causes of crime.