South Peace News
Domestic violence and bail release conditions concern Lakeshore Regional Police Service.
Police calls for Lakeshore Regional Police Service dropped in 2022 from 2021, yet officers remain vigilant to reduce crime more.
Lakeshore responded to 1,555 calls in 2022, down from 1,751 in 2021, says Dale Cox, chief of police.
Last year, Lakeshore focused on a couple of areas of concern – new bail release regulations and domestic violence – that effect public safety in its communities.
Lakesshore Police serves Driftpile Cree Nation, Sucker Creek First Nation, Kapawe’no First Nation and Swan River First Nation east of High Prairie, along with Sawridge First Nation in Slave Lake.
Domestic violence remains a major concern for Lakeshore.
“These are still some of the highest public safety risk investigations police services undertake and have the potential for serious consequences for all people involved,” Cox says.
“The issue we are finding – and that has always plagued these types of investigations – is the reluctance of victims and witnesses to provide evidence that would allow prosecution of the offenders.”
Lakeshore plans to address the issue in the community in the coming months.
“Our crime prevention unit will be co-ordinating with our communities to hold meetings in each community to get a better understanding of the reasons around victims’ and witnesses’ reluctance to provide evidence police require to address these investigations.”
“We will analyze the results of these community engagements and from that, begin looking at ways of utilizing the information obtained to address this area of concern.”
Criminal activity started to increase last March when COVID-19 restrictions ended.
“With COVID-19 restrictions dropped and more people being out in the community, we have seen some areas of crime start up again,” Cox says.
“As a result of this, were are starting to see the full outcomes from the federal government’s Bill C-75 which addresses bail release for persons charged with offences.”
He says that is causing more problems.
“We are finding persons that have been charged with serious criminal offences being released with various conditions, only to commit further offences shortly after they are released, including breaches of conditions they agreed to in order to be released,” Cox says.
In many cases, those same people are again released and they commit further offences, he notes. It has caused great concern from citizens.
“Our office has heard from the communities, especially from our Elders feeling that this practice is putting the safety of them and their communities at risk,” Cox says.
Lakeshore is joining forces in an attempt to revise the Bill.
“As this is a major concern across the nation, steps are being taken from both provincial and national police associations to attempt to have changes to the way bail is granted, especially in matters in which violence was used in the commission of the offence,” Cox says.
“We are requesting that there be a change in the bail release procedures for chronic offenders who continue to commit further offences while out on release and fail to adhere to their release conditions.
“Even with those steps, there will be a need for communities to weigh in on their perspective about bail release for offenders.”