At its final meeting of December city council agreed to ramp up its request for GPS monitoring of prolific offenders. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

City council to ramp up demands for GPS electronic monitoring of prolific offenders in 2020

Scott Nelson said council will be putting in an effort to make community safety number one priority

Williams Lake city council is not going to let down on its wish to see GPS electronic monitoring used to track prolific offenders.

At the final council meeting of the year, Coun. Scott Nelson said in 2020 council will be putting in a greater effort to make community safety a number one priority.

Nelson said council met with Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, during the Union of BC Municipalities Convention in September of this year and GPS monitoring was the number one issue.

“He sent us a letter thanking us for the meeting and didn’t even talk about GPS monitoring,” Nelson said.

As a result, Mayor Walt Cobb and CAO Milo MacDonald are composing a letter in response and will also highlight the fact the letter fails to acknowledge there was a unanimous adoption of a motion at the North Central Local Government Association Convention to support the revision of the crime stats recording methodology that was also unanimously carried at UBCM.

READ MORE: Williams Lake pushes for electronic monitoring of prolific offenders

“It flies in the face of all those municipalities,” MacDonald said.

Nelson also said Crown Counsel has refused to meet with council to discuss GPS electronic monitoring of prolific offenders.

“We are going further back with this government because they don’t want to talk to us about GPS or to our staff,” Nelson said. “They are still letting out serial prolific offenders onto our streets on a daily basis. They released a couple more this morning.”

Dan McLaughlin, communications counsel for the BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) confirmed the BCPS declined an invitation from the local RCMP to attend a recent council meeting.

“It was our understanding that council wished to discuss issues around the use of electronic monitoring and specifically the use of GPS devices leased by the City for this purpose,” McLaughlin said. “City Council did not extend a direct invitation to the local Crown Counsel office, and no written notice was provided of the questions the council might have of the BC Prosecution Service.”

Issues around the use of electronic monitoring of offenders were raised last year when the acquisition of GPS devices by the city was publicized, McLaughlin said.

“Subsequently a presentation was made to city council by senior representatives from BC Corrections regarding the feasibility of the use of these and government approved devices for offenders and the policies in place to deal with their use.”

BC Corrections administers a province-wide electronic supervision program for individuals involved in the criminal justice system.

In appropriate cases the BCPS will make submissions to the court on the use of this service with respect to offenders.

Those decisions are made on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the law and our policies. The final decision on the use of this resource is made by the court in all cases.

WEB POLL: Should prolific and domestic violence offenders be monitored by GPS?

“The BCPS takes the view that any questions related to the BC Corrections Electronic Supervision Program or its implementation are best directed to BC Corrections. It was in this context that the BCPS declined the RCMP’s invitation to appear with them before council,” McLaughlin noted, adding Crown indicated council was welcome to submit any written questions to permit a considered BCPS response.

As of Dec. 19, the BCPS had not received any questions from council.

Letters of support for GPS monitoring have come from MP Todd Doherty, MLA Donna Barnett, Williams Lake Indian Band Chief Willie Sellars, the Women’s Contact Society, the Williams Lake and District Chamber of Commerce and more are expected, Nelson said.

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