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Forfeitures aid Elizabeth Fry

A new program initiated through the Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society will get a kick start thanks to a grant through the Civil Forfeiture Office.

The province announced the $70,000 grant Monday morning.

Society Executive Director, Michelle Novakowski, says the money will be used for a new unit in cooperation with the RCMP, Ministry of Children and Family Development, Corrections and other community members.

"This money is going to be part of developing an imbeded unit where we can have our specialized victim assistance worker at the (RCMP) detachment working with a team of police, victim services and child protection that is looking at interventions around those extremely high risk cases," says Novakowski.

"We at one point had one of the highest rates of domestic violence in Canada according to Stats Canada. Part of that is reporting but we also are looking at the highest risk where there is a risk of homicide or severe bodily harm."

Novakowski says the unit will look at interventions that keep the family safe while also keeping the offender monitored and accountable in an effort to reduce the risk.

"It's a fairly new thing that is happening in BC. This will be one of the first embedded units with a community based victim service in BC."

The Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society also received $24,250 to be used in West Kelowna.

Novakowski says those funds are for a similar program.

"West Kelowna doesn't have the number of RCMP members to do an embedded unit in the same way, but they have offered us space at the detachment and we are also looking at renting space in West Kelowna," says Novakowski.

"About 30 per cent of our clients come from there anyway and it has always been a problem for women to get here and for us to get there. We did some research last year...and now we are going to start putting in some part-time supports over there for women who have difficulty getting to downtown Kelowna."

A further $20,000 was earmarked for the Kelowna RCMP to establish a Domestic Violence Unit in Kelowna.



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