UCP To Tackle Growing Crime Wave

March 27, 2019

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“We will do everything within our power to stop the revolving door in our justice system, and to keep Albertans safe,” Kenney says

LAC STE. ANNE COUNTY, AB (March 27, 2019): Albertans were today promised more judges, more prosecutors and stronger laws part of a United Conservative plan to tackle Alberta’s growing crime wave.

“The first duty of government is to protect public safety,” Kenney said. “But on that score, this NDP government has failed. Crime has risen steeply since the NDP took over with its soft on crime approach. A United Conservative government will act to give our police and prosecutors the tools they need to protect law abiding Albertans and put serious criminals behind bars.”

Kenney cited statistics that reveal a growing crime problem in Alberta:

  • Auto theft is way up and Alberta leads the country in auto-theft—at three times the national average with 62 stolen vehicles per day, on average.1 The Alberta Motor Association says there has been a 32% increase in vehicle thefts since 20142. 29% percent of all vehicle thefts in Canada happen in Alberta, according to Statistics Canada3
  • By 2018, the rural crime rate in some communities rose by 250% compared with 2011.4 They included communities such as Innisfail and Bonnyville where property break-ins were up 94% and up by 133% respectively between 2016 and 2017.5
  • In 2018, Edmonton Police Service reported6)that since 2015, assaults were up 11%; property crimes were up 13%, and sexual assault incidents were up 17%.
  • In 2018, Calgary Police services reported7 that over the last five years there was a 6% increase in property crimes, a 25%increase in financial robberies, a 26.3% increase in sex offences, a  27.6% increase in robberies, and a 35.9% total increase in assault crimes.8
  • Maclean’s reported last November that 7 of the top 10 cities in their Canada’s Most Dangerous Places 2019 ranking (based on 5-year change in crime severity index) are from Alberta.9

“Triage is something you do in a hospital after a disaster. What’s a disaster here is that the NDP is failing in government’s most basic responsibility – law and order. Albertans are concerned about property crime, lax sentencing, early release… They deserve better. Criminal justice has to be properly funded.”

Kenney stated today that to protect law abiding Albertans, a United Conservative Party government will hire 50 new prosecutors and support staff.

“This is a $10 million investment in security for all Albertans,” said Kenney. “It would help to clear the backlog in our courts, and stop the NDP’s policy of release criminals to revictimize Albertans.”

Kenney also announced that a UCP government will boost funding by $20 million over four years (69 percent) to the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT), who deal with children’s exploitation, domestic violence, stalking, and gang issues, among others. The $20 million funding increase will:

  • Double ALERT’s funding for its sub-unit, the Integrated Child Exploitation (ICE) unit that tracks, arrests and prosecutes child pornographers
  • Double the funding for its sub-unit, the Integrated Threat and Risk Assessment (I-TRAC) unit, the police unit that helps combat domestic violence and stalking
  • Create a new Opioid Enforcement Team

A UCP government will also work with ALERT to obtain a charitable foundation (akin to the Calgary and Edmonton Police foundations) which can then attract additional funds from the private donors.

Kenney also promised that under a UCP government Albertans would know the truth about crime in their province.

“We will pass the Public’s Right to Know Act. This bill will require an annual report to the legislature containing detailed provincial crime statistics.”

A UCP government would also replace the Parole Board of Canada with an Alberta Parole Board for offenders serving sentences of under two years.

And because crime victims can often fall through the cracks, a UCP government will also conduct an immediate review of the current model of victim service delivery, victim assistance funding, and victim compensation to ensure optimal assistance to victims of crime.

A UCP government would also invest $5 million to increase access to Drug Treatment Courts as an effective way of helping drug addicts to leave the cycle of crime and addiction through treatment, testing, incentives, sanctions and social support.

The responsibility for law enforcement is shared with the federal government. A UCP government will therefore also negotiate with the federal government (and with other provinces as necessary) to:

  • Secure additional Queen’s Bench justice appointments to reduce the backlog in superior courts.
  • Ensure that Grande Prairie be given its own Queen’s Bench.
  • Develop and put in place a specific Repeat Offender Policy.
  • Ensure the return of criminals who have fled to other provinces, to face justice in Alberta. (According to Alberta police forces, flight-across-borders has become a critical problem given the number of jurisdictions involved, especially in western Canada.)
  • Review current Criminal Code sentencing principles to ensure that in rural crime offences, specific facts be considered by a sentencing court as aggravating factors, and that the principles of deterrence and denunciation be prioritized.”

In 2018, the UCP released its Alberta Rural Crime Strategy, calling for a provincially regulated police response system linking all enforcement agencies to pursue the relatively small number of organised, repeat offenders who are responsible for most rural crime.

 “Our Rural Crime Strategy would establish these specialized Crown-police units in every judicial district,” said Kenney.  These units would then handle high-risk offender cases through the system, from arrest all the way to sentencing.”

Kenney made the announcement at the Lewis Farm in Lac Ste. Anne County, which has been hit by multiple burglaries in recent years. “The Lewis family is typical of so many rural Albertans who have been forced to live in fear by criminal intruders. In fact, they had a break in and robbery just this past weekend. They deserve to know that the government is doing everything it can to stop their lives from being disrupted by crime yet again.”

These pledges are the latest in a string of measures announced by Kenney and deputy party leader Leela Aheer to protect vulnerable Albertans, especially women. These include:

  • The ‘Saving the Girl Next Door Act’, which targets human traffickers.
  • $5 million in extra funding for Sexual Assault Crisis Centres.
  • Improvements to the collection and storage of evidence of rape, especially in remote and rural areas.
  • Clare’s Law, which permits police forces to share with women who wish to know, any record of sexual violence their partner may have.

“Nothing is more important than protecting the safety of law abiding citizens,” said Kenney. “Too many Albertans are being victimized, and too many criminals are going through a revolving door justice system, back out on the streets claiming new victims. A United Conservative government will do everything within our power to stop the revolving door, and to keep Albertans safe.”

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For more information, contact:

media@unitedconservative.ca

Cracking Down on Crime

BACKGROUNDER

“The first duty of government is to protect public safety. But on that score, this NDP government has failed. Crime has risen steeply since the NDP took over with its soft on crime approach. A United Conservative government will act to give our police and prosecutors the tools they need to protect law abiding Albertans and put serious criminals behind bars.”

Jason Kenney, Leader of the United Conservative Party of Alberta

“Albertans are concerned about the crisis in Alberta’s courts, where insufficient resources and misplaced priorities have resulted in criminals going scot-free,” said Kenney. “The NDP can find money for free light bulbs, but is telling prosecutors to drop ‘less important” criminal charges, because they can’t afford to deal with them. That’s scandalous.”

“Triage is something you do in a hospital after a disaster. What’s a disaster here is that the NDP is failing in government’s most basic responsibility – law and order. Albertans are concerned about property crime, lax sentencing, early release… They deserve better. Criminal justice has to be properly funded.”

The growing crime problem

It’s clear there is a growing crime problem in Alberta:

  • Auto theft is way up and Alberta leads the country in auto-theft—at three times the national average with 62 stolen vehicles per day, on average.1 The Alberta Motor Association says there has been a 32% increase in vehicle thefts since 20142. 29% percent of all vehicle thefts in Canada happen in Alberta, according to Statistics Canada3
  • By 2018, the rural crime rate in some communities rose by 250% compared with 2011.4 They included communities such as Innisfail and Bonnyville where property break-ins were up 94% and up by 133% respectively between 2016 and 2017.5
  • In 2018, Edmonton Police Service reported6) that since 2015, assaults were up 11%; and property crimes were up 13%, and sexual assault incidents were up 17%.
  • In 2018, Calgary Police services reported10 that over the last five years there was a 6% increase in property crimes, a 25% increase in financial robberies, a 26.3% increase in sex offences, a 27.6% increase in robberies, and a 35.9% total increase in assault crimes.8
  • Maclean’s reported last November that 7 of the top 10 cities in their Canada’s Most Dangerous Places 2019 ranking (based on 5-year change in crime severity index) are from Alberta.9

Top 10 Most Dangerous Cities in Canada ranking  (Maclean’s, Nov. 5, 2018)

(based on 5-year change in crime severity index)

1. Wetaskiwin, AB

2. Red Deer, AB

3. Lethbridge, AB

4. Prince Albert, SK

5. Thompson, MB

6. Cold Lake, AB

7. Courtenay, BC

8. Whitecourt, AB

9. Spruce Grove, AB

10. Sylvan Lake, AB

13. Edmonton, AB

It’s clear that the wrong people are getting paroled—and early

  • Violent sex offenders are even getting bail after allegedly breaching conditions related to the sex offender registry. This just occurred in Edmonton in early March with convicted violent sex offender Dana Fash, released on $500 bail.11
  • A Calgary rapist who photographed his victim and posted the 2016 attack online, and who was convicted in 2018 and given a 26 months’ sentence, was granted day parole just last month.12
  • A day-home operator convicted in 2018 of criminal negligence in the 2015 death of an 18-month old girl, and given three-and-half years in prison was granted day parole just last month.13

Proposed United Conservative Party reforms to criminal justice:

1) Spend $10 million to hire 50 new prosecutors and their support staff. The UCP will work with front line personnel to design and deploy a province wide system that promotes recruitment, retention and appropriate compensation and staffing levels of Crown Prosecutors who are essential to the proper functioning of our criminal justice system.  

Albertans are concerned about property crime, lax sentencing, early release, and the crisis in Alberta’s courts where insufficient resources and misplaced priorities have resulted in serious cases getting dropped or “triaged away”.14

Jason Kenney – “This is a $10 million investment in security for all Albertans. It is very much needed and would put a stop to letting people accused of serious crimes go free, because their crimes weren’t quite serious enough.”

2) Increase funding by $20 million over four years (an increase of two-thirds) to Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT).

Usually referred to as ALERT, the group has specialist sub-divisions and is governed by a board by police chiefs from around Alberta. There is one appointment from the province from Justice and Solicitor General (a joint appointment).15ALERT and its sub-units deal with and investigate child pornography, gang violence, stalking and domestic violence, among other issues.

The Teams

  • The Integrated Child Exploitation Unit (ICE) deals with the exploitation of children.
  • In 2018, in one investigation alone, ICE laid charges in 56 child pornography cases against 16 men in Calgary, Red Deer, Airdrie, and Strathmore.
  • The Integrated Threat and Risk Assessment (I-TRAC), helps combat domestic violence and stalking.
  • Last year I-TRAC conducted 222 threat and risk assessments based on referrals from school boards, universities, police, and government agencies.

Background on ICE and I-TRAC:

ICE does not have the resources to fully do its job. For example, the Southern Alberta ICE team has six seasoned forensic examiners to compile evidence. At capacity they can process about 120 people/year. 

But they receive approximately 600 leads and complaints about child pornography possession every year. That number does not include ICE lead initiatives. This means that despite their constant around-the-clock hard work, the ICE team are put in the impossible position of having to prioritize the “worst” cases and are unable to investigate hundreds of other complaints and tips.

To further complicate things, the so-called ‘Jordan’s principle’ now means that all cases must be in the courts within 18 months from the day that charges are laid.

This has put significant strain on the ICE teams who now only have 90 days to conclude their investigations and get all of their evidence into the Crown Prosecutors Office so that these cases go through the courts in time and potential offenders don’t walk away.

ALERT’s board allocates funds between the teams. The total funding for ICE (North and South) and I-TRAC, is only $5.6 million.

The $20 million funding increase will:

  • Double the funding over four year for the Integrated Child Exploitation (ICE) Unit.
  • Double funding over four years for the Integrated Threat and Risk Assessment (I-TRAC) Unit.
  • Fund a new Opioid Enforcement Unit under ALERT at $2.5 million annually.
  • Provide an overall increase of 69% more funding ($50 million over four years) to the parent agency, Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT).

3) Work with ALERT to obtain a charitable foundation, (akin to the Calgary and Edmonton Police foundations,) which can then attract additional funds from the public.

4) Better protect women from domestic violence by creating a specific fund of $2 million annually to permit expanded use of a specialized electronic monitoring technology. 

5) Pass an Alberta version of Saskatchewan’s ‘Clare’s Law’Clare’s Law’ allows police to share, with women who wish to know, their intimate partner’s previous history of domestic violence or violent acts in defined circumstances. Clare’s Law takes its name from the victim of a horrific murder who was completely unaware that her partner had served six years for sexual assault. Clare’s Law is intended to reduce the chances of a similar event occurring, by ensuring increased family awareness of an intimate partner’s violent past.

6) Enact the ‘Public’s Right to Know Act

It’s hard for public servants to correct things that are not measured. ThePublic’s Right to Know Act will require annual reporting by judicial district of the number of crimes committed by persons:

  • on bail,
  • on probation,
  • on conditional sentence,
  • on parole (federal and provincial) statutory release,
  • with three or more previous criminal convictions,
  • who are subject to a deportation order for criminality,
  • who were previously removed for criminality.

7) Expand the use of Drug Treatment Courts

The Provincial Court of Alberta started a Drug Treatment Court in 2005. The program is intended to break the cycle of criminal behavior driven by drug addiction, by offering participants a chance to avoid prison and complete a drug treatment program in the case of non-violent offences. The program is comprehensive and aims to reduce the number of crimes committed to support drug dependence through judicial supervision, drug abuse treatment, frequent drug testing, incentives, sanctions and social services support. Calgary and Edmonton have a Drug Treatment Court program.

A United Conservative government would dedicate $5 million to Drug Treatment Courts so that they can handle more cases.

8) Implement the UCP’s 2018 Alberta Rural Crime Strategy as outlined in our Report.16

A response to a ‘dangerous shift’16 towards widespread and increasing violent crime in rural areas, the UCP’s Alberta Rural Crime Strategy prescribes closer coordination between police services, units established in each judicial district focused on high-risk repeat offenders and an ombudsman for crime victims.

The UCP’s 2018 Alberta Rural Crime Strategy will:

  • Work with police agencies in Alberta to ensure that all relevant data is collected, analysed and reported to the public on an annual basis with respect to rural crime;
  • Provide additional policing resources;
  • Update and tighten the bail process to keep offenders off the streets; and

9) Advocate with the federal government for amendments to the current Criminal Code dealing with rural areas.

A UCP government would seek sentencing principles to ensure that, in rural crime offences, specific facts be considered by a sentencing court as aggravating factors and that the principles of deterrence and denunciation be prioritized, including evidence that the accused:

  • Selected a remote location to commit the crime in recognition of the victim’s enhanced vulnerability;
  • Refused to depart the scene of a break and enter or theft when confronted by the property owner;
  • and or his accomplices were armed with a weapon and or exhibited threatening behaviour to the victim or other persons on the property.

10) Replace the Parole Board of Canada with an Alberta Parole Board for offenders serving a sentence of less than two years. 

Inmates serving sentences of less than two years are housed in Provincial jails, and the Province has jurisdiction to decide on early parole or conditional release. Only Ontario and Quebec have their own parole boards as all other Provinces, including Alberta, contract with the federal government to have the Parole Board of Canada perform that service.

This means that parole board members are chosen by the federal government rather than the provincial government which has raised some concerns about a lack of local priorities being implemented. Accordingly, it was recommended that Alberta terminate its current agreement with the Parole Board of Canada and enact legislation to create an Alberta Parole Board.

11) To help victims and prevent new victims, a UCP government will:

  • Conduct an immediate review of the current model of victim service delivery.
  • In cooperation with local police, Crown and medical authorities, we will conduct an immediate review of the sufficiency of medical and forensic evidence gathering services in rural communities to determine what improvements are required.

12) Develop and implement a specific Repeat Offender Policy with both Provincial and Federal components that includes:

  • A review of Chief Justice Wittman’s ruling requiring Prosecutors to conduct bail hearings and try to develop an alternative model, to maximize the productivity of resources.
  • Amendments to the Crown Policy Manual to require Crown Prosecutors to ask judges to record the reason and need for a case adjournment;
  • Creating a police/Crown High Risk-Repeat Offender Unit in each judicial district with responsibility for case preparation, bail, prosecution and sentencing and early release submissions for selected repeat and high-risk offenders;

13) Direct a review of the Crown Policy Manual to ensure that appropriate consideration is given to whether the use of force defence in sections 34 and 35 of the Criminal Code should preclude prosecution against victims of crime:

  • The awareness of the person of a significant delay or non-response of police to the request for assistance due to the remote location of the crime being committed;
  • the failure of the offender to depart the premises when confronted which, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, shall be viewed as threatening;
  • the number of persons committing the crime and the perception of their intoxication by alcohol or drugs.

14) Negotiate additional Queen’s Bench Justice’ appointments with the federal government.

In particular, this will include requesting that Grande Prairie be given its own Queen’s Bench justices, to help alleviate waiting times in the courts.

15) Update the Crown Prosecutors’ Policy Manual to require prosecutors to provide the Court with an offender’s past criminal record and outstanding charges during bail hearings.

16) Return of accused on outstanding warrants

This issue has been previously identified by police, especially in western Canada, as a critical issue. Due to the size of Canada, an unfortunate reality of our system is that persons charged with criminal offences and released on bail in one Province all too frequently fail to appear in court as required and instead move to another Province to avoid prosecution. Following their non-appearance, a warrant is issued in the original jurisdiction, but it usually restricts enforcement to that jurisdiction.

The result is that if that person comes into contact with police in a different jurisdiction who check CPIC and discover the outstanding arrest warrant, there are operational barriers to returning the fugitive to the location where the warrant was issued. Among the difficulties are determining who pays the cost of returning the offender as the originating jurisdictions are reluctant to do so and, in fact, are glad to see the criminals gone.

This is more than just an internal justice system annoyance as if no approval is given to return the offender, they must be released which means they are back on the streets and free to commit more crimes in the new location.

It will be necessary to work with other provinces and the federal government to amend the Criminal Code to permit the imposition of a restitution order against the offender upon conviction to cover the costs of returning them to face justice.

The UCP Record

  • Jason Kenney was in the federal Conservative cabinet that adopted dozens of new tough-on-crime laws.
  • Kenney was also key to the 2012 federal government action that unveiled the National Action Plan to Combat Human Traffickingto address the issue of human trafficking.17
  • The UCP was the first to demand that doctors convicted of sexual assaults face a lifetime ban from practicing in their profession. We subsequently proposed amendments to Bill 21 to institute a lifetime practice ban for doctors convicted of sexual assault.18 This is consistent with attempts to protect Albertans from predators.
  • The UCP issued a major report on rural crime, A Safer Alberta, issued in July 2018.19

UCP Policy Declaration 2018

Statement of Principles:

Protecting public safety as a primary responsibility of government.20 

Community. The UCP is committed to:

  • A fair and innovative justice system and effective policing system that protects Albertans, prioritizes the victims of crimes, and facilitates the rehabilitation of criminals.21
  1. Calgary Sun, Mar. 7, 2018[🠝][🠝]
  2. AMA report, Feb. 21, 2018[🠝][🠝]
  3. CTV, Mar. 7, 2018[🠝][🠝]
  4. Whitecourt Star, Feb. 6, 2018[🠝][🠝]
  5. Innisfail Province, Nov. 21, 2017 and Bonnyville Nouvelle, Nov. 21, 2017[🠝][🠝]
  6. Edmonton Police Service statistics– (Q4 2018[🠝][🠝]
  7. Calgary Police Services – Calgary Crime Statistics, 2018 Q4.[🠝]
  8. http://www.calgary.ca/cps/Documents/statistical-reports/Quarterly/Quarterly%20Report%20Q4%202018.pdf[🠝][🠝]
  9. https://www.macleans.ca/canadas-most-dangerous-places-2019/[🠝][🠝]
  10. Calgary Police Services – Calgary Crime Statistics, 2018 Q1.[🠝]
  11. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/dana-fash-granted-bail-sex-offender-registry-1.5040219[🠝]
  12. https://globalnews.ca/news/4981599/calgary-rapist-drayton-preston-granted-day-parole/[🠝]
  13. https://calgarysun.com/pmn/news-pmn/canada-news-pmn/calgary-father-says-parole-decision-for-daughters-killer-outrageous/wcm/e706eac9-7001-40be-aaf0-640518eb2765[🠝]
  14. https://globalnews.ca/news/3297426/alberta-justice-minister-addresses-memo-defends-new-triage-protocol-for-prosecutors/[🠝]
  15. ALERT Annual Report 2017-2018, p2. [🠝]
  16. http://www.ucpcaucus.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Rural-Crime-Report-FINAL.pdf[🠝][🠝]
  17. https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/ntnl-ctn-pln-cmbt/index-en.aspx[🠝]
  18. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/doctors-sexual-abuse-bill-1.4898379[🠝]
  19. See: A Safer Alberta at http://www.ucpcaucus.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Rural-Crime-Report-FINAL.pdf.[🠝]
  20. UCP Alberta Policy Declaration 2018, https://bit.ly/2Rw8b9W, 3.[🠝]
  21. UCP Alberta Policy Declaration 2018, https://bit.ly/2Rw8b9W, 16.[🠝]
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