Ministry of Justice year in review
Today, Justice Minister and Attorney General Shirley Bond highlighted important legislative and regulatory changes that advanced the safety of British Columbians in their homes, on their streets and in their communities this year.
"As we wrap up another year, it's important to highlight our achievements," said Bond. "I'm proud we've delivered on our commitment to safer and stronger communities and strong families this year - a key pillar of Premier Christy Clark's government. Some key changes we've introduced are having a measurable and dramatic impact on the safety of B.C. families and communities. Going forward, we'll continue to look for further ways to enhance the safety of all British Columbians."
Notably, in 2012, government reaffirmed its commitment to tough roadside sanctions for impaired driving, its support for B.C.'s comprehensive gang prevention strategy, and its plan for a new high-security correctional facility in the Okanagan.
Changes to the immediate roadside prohibition program enhanced the fairness of the appeal process while preserving the deterrent value of B.C.'s tough approach to drinking and driving. This approach has saved more than 100 lives over the past two years.
Also in June, government committed to continued support for its guns and gangs strategy, which has reduced and solved gang killings, interrupted murder conspiracies, arrested hundreds of gangsters and associates, and seized hundreds of illegal weapons. The $22 million in annual funding is sustaining 168 anti-gang officer positions originally created in 2009.
A strategic plan for policing is being developed that includes looking at ways to strengthen the Organized Crime and Gang Unit so their presence is felt in all communities targeted by organized crime.
The safety of young British Columbians was a growing focus for sharing proceeds from B.C.'s successful civil forfeiture program. A record $5.5 million in grants awarded at the end of 2011/12 included funding for projects focused on keeping youth out of gangs and warning them about the dangers of the drug Ecstasy. In November, anti-bullying programs were also invited to apply for some of up to $1 million in civil forfeiture funds.
This month, government took an important step forward for the Okanagan Correctional Centre(OCC) project with the release of a Request for Qualifications to identify proponents capable of delivering the new, high-security facility in the south Okanagan, with an estimated construction cost of $200 million. This project will further the largest capital expansion in BC Corrections' history, which has been working to add hundreds of new cells on the Lower Mainland, in the Interior and in the North since 2008. OCC will also generate significant economic benefits in the Okanagan, creating up to 500 direct and 500 indirect construction jobs, plus about 240 new, full-time correctional positions when the centre opens inlate 2016.
* In July, new regulations came into effect to help curb thefts of high-value scrap metal - particularly thefts of copper telephone wire, which have frequently left thousands of BCfamilies without access to 911 emergency service for hours.
* To further coastal community safety in the event of earthquakes and tsunamis, governmentstrengthened its emergency tsunami notification system in November, offering greater broadcast of initial alerts to the public, local authorities and emergency responders.
* Government nearly doubled the number of locations for DriveABLE, helping to reduce travel for drivers, including seniors, referred to take the functional cognitive assessment. The number of locations throughout B.C. increased to 28 from 15 in 2011.
* New helmet standards and seating requirements to protect motorcyclists and their passengers from and in crashes came into effect June 1.
* A campaign to further the use and regular testing of smoke alarms in B.C. residences brought a growing number of provincial, federal, firefighting and business partners together and saw 7,500 free smoke alarms donated to low-income and other vulnerable families.
* Government launched a multi-year project to shift more traffic violations to an administrative process, freeing up court resources while strengthening road safety by holding more drivers accountable.
* Under Budget 2012, BC Corrections received funding to hire 36 additional probation officers to support implementing a new supervision approach that, during a pilot program, reduced the rate of reoffending by 38 per cent among medium- and high-risk offenders.
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