BC Liberals put British Columbians at risk by cutting prolific offender program: Farnworth

An independent report released today focused on repeat offending confirmed that the BC Liberals scrapped a successful pilot program a decade ago that could have prevented crimes that threaten the safety of British Columbians today.

According to the report, the BC government began piloting the program based on the UK’s Prolific Offender Management program in 2008 and achieved results that were described as “promising.”

According to a Ministry of Justice background document from 2012, preliminary findings showed that those in the program:

  • Re-offended 40 per cent less during the first year follow-up period when compared to their criminal behavior prior to their involvement in the pilot project;
  • Reduced re-offending rates for property crime, violent offences and drug- and alcohol-related offences;
  • Used physical health services more;
  • Used housing and other social services more;
  • Had fewer negative police contacts; and spent less time in custody.

Despite the success of the program that received $120,000 annually according to an SFU study, the BC Liberals provided no more funding for the initiative starting in 2012, expecting that the same results could be achieved within existing justice ministry resources.

In addition, when Kevin Falcon was at the cabinet table, the BC Liberals made significant cuts to addictions and mental health supports including:

  • Deep cuts to services for at-risk youth in 2001: Cutting child protection and family development by $185 million, and $34.5 million from youth mental health and prevention supports;
  • $360 million in cuts to health authorities in 2009 resulting in reducing or eliminating mental health services at a scale called “staggering” and “incomprehensible” by the executive director of Coast Mental Health in Vancouver.

BC NDP Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth

“It is deeply troubling that because the BC Liberals did not want to spend $120,000 a year to continue a program that was keeping our streets safer, we are now facing a decade of catchup on this important issue. When Kevin Falcon is looking for the reasons why we are dealing with that issue today, he should look in the mirror.”