Bias stalled case against Pickton

An inquiry into the Robert Pickton case concludes systemic bias against the poor, drug-addicted sex workers that Pickton targeted prompted public indifference and led to police failures.

Commissioner Wally Oppal's final report runs more than 1,400 pages and chronicles investigations by Vancouver police and the RCMP in Port Coquitlam and the report says both were plagued by problems.

The Canadian Press has learned the report says it's clear Pickton's choice of victims contributed to the reluctance of police to take the case seriously and the inquiry concludes if the women had been from an affluent Vancouver neighbourhood, the response would have been different.

Oppal makes a number of recommendations, including measures to ensure police officers understand the lives of impoverished women in the Downtown Eastside, more services for sex workers, and improved collaboration between neighbouring police forces.

The report will likely be met with skepticism by Oppal's many critics, who have complained about the inquiry's narrow focus on police and have accused him of ignoring the voices of vulnerable women.

Pickton was arrested in February 2002 and eventually convicted of six counts of second-degree murder, though the remains or DNA of 33 women were found on his farm.

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