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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”.1
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.
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).2 ALERT and its sub-units deal with and investigate child pornography, gang violence, stalking and domestic violence, among other issues.
• 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).
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.
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.
It’s hard for public servants to correct things that are not measured. The ‘Public’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.
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.
A response to a ‘dangerous shift’3 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
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.
- 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.
- 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.
This will include:
• 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;
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.4 The Alberta Motor Association says there has been a 32% increase in vehicle thefts since 20145. 29% percent of all vehicle thefts in Canada happen in Alberta, according to Statistics Canada6
- By 2018, the rural crime rate in some communities rose by 250% compared with 2011.7 They included communities such as Innisfail and Bonnyville where property break-ins were up 94% and up by 133% respectively between 2016 and 2017.8
- In 2018, Edmonton Police Service reported9) 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.11
- 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.12
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.13
- 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.14
- 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.15
- 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.16
- 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.17 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 2018.18
- ALERT Annual Report 2017-2018, p2.
- Calgary Sun, Mar. 7, 2018
- AMA report, Feb. 21, 2018
- CTV, Mar. 7, 2018
- Whitecourt Star, Feb. 6, 2018
- Innisfail Province, Nov. 21, 2017 and Bonnyville Nouvelle, Nov. 21, 2017
- Edmonton Police Service statistics– (Q4 2018
- Calgary Police Services – Calgary Crime Statistics, 2018 Q1.
- See: A Safer Alberta at http://www.ucpcaucus.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Rural-Crime-Report-FINAL.pdf.