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TAYLOR, B.C. — A community meeting was held in Taylor on Monday to discuss crime trends and shed some light on the legal process.
The meeting took place at the Taylor Community Hall and featured a panel of speakers touching on various topics, including crime statistics, rural crime watch groups, the court system, and police response in the community.
In attendance was Inspector Anthony Hanson from the Fort St. John RCMP, Peace River North MLA Dan Davies, Director of the South Peace Crime Prevention Association John Vetter, and members of the Regional Crown Counsel: head prosecutor Lori Stevens and deputy prosecutor Tyler Bauman.
Members of Taylor council were also present, including mayor Brent Taillefer.
Hanson, Stevens, and Bauman spent a good chunk of the meeting explaining the legal process and how the justice system in British Columbia operates.
The trio described the role of police versus the role of Crown Counsel in laying charges, the metrics used by police to determine whether they will or will not arrest someone, how the Crown determines if charges will be laid, and how the RCMP prioritizes files.
Hanson and Stevens also explained the process by which bail is determined.
“The majority of people who are arrested, charged do not stay in custody until the trial,” Hanson explained.
“They’re released back in the community under supervision and with conditions to abide by.”
According to Stevens, everyone in Canada has a right to bail, and it is the Crown’s job to set boundaries to said bail or prove that the accused should not be released on bail.
Stevens explained the three main reasons for not allowing bail: if the accused were a risk to the public, if there were substantial evidence the accused would not show up to court, or in rarer circumstances, if releasing the accused would “bring the administration of justice into disrepute.”
Stevens also explained roughly 98 per cent of charges brought before the Crown in B.C. would go forward to trial. She said the most common reason for no charges being brought forward was a lack of evidence.
Stevens and Hanson encouraged residents to stay involved with the legal process should they find themselves involved. They also urged members of the public to report suspicious activity and potential crimes.
“Don’t get so cynical that you don’t bother communicating,” Stevens said.
The topic of communicating and reporting crimes was brought up again by MLA Davies, who said reporting meant there would be statistics, which could then be used to gain more support and funding.
Stevens and Hanson also encouraged the organization and use of community watch programs, like the South Peace Crime Prevention Association.
Director John Vetter spoke about the South Peace Crime Prevention Association’s work and how they came to be by looking at prevention work that was going on in Alberta. He also explained the steps needed to get a group like this started in a community, highlighting that the first thing required was volunteers.
Mayor Taillefer stated that anyone in the Taylor community interested in volunteering with a community watch group could reach out to district staff.
“Let’s work stronger together,” Mayor Taillefer said.
This community discussion comes after discussions in Dawson Creek and at the regional district level on the rise in crime in the area. Recently, Dawson Creek spoke with the Attorney General about the issue, prompting the Peace River Regional District to request a meeting with the Attorney General and Solicitor General.
According to statistics given out at the meeting, there were 45 property crimes in the district and surrounding area in 2022.
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