The BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) says criminal charge backlog numbers as reported by Kelowna RCMP are grossly inaccurate.
The numbers were reported to city council during its meeting on Feb. 28.
Detachment Superintendent Kara Triance told council that property crime and other charges including violence and mischief totaled 3,358 in 2021 with 2,765 awaiting an assessment from the BCPS, or nearly 80 per cent. A release from the BCPS says the statement unjustifiably casts doubt on the professionalism and effectiveness of hard-working Crown Counsel. Information provided by the BCPS showed a total of 1,962 reports to Crown Counsel with 2,048 accused submitted by RCMP last year.
A Kelowna RCMP statement later clarified the report to council, and Capital News reported that information on Mar. 3:
“Of the 3,358 charges sent to the Crown as mentioned in Superintendent Triance’s presentation to Council, 2,675 may not be in “charge assessment” but rather at one of the various stages of the judicial process, reflecting the difference in how our two organizations track files.”
“In my response to questions from council about the backlog of files with Crown Counsel, I provided the information based on our system which is different from how the BCPS tracks these files,” said Supt. Triance. “We are working closely with the BCPS to provide more accurate and consistent information that will help all of us better understand what needs to be done to address property crime in our community.”
Today’s (Mar. 4) statement from the BCPS said there is no Crown charge assessment backlog and this is not an issue of differences in systems or tracking:
“The simple fact is that the overwhelming majority of the Reports to Crown Counsel the BC Prosecution Service received from the Kelowna RCMP in 2021 were assessed by Crown Counsel within 30 days or less of being received and have been approved and are currently pending before the court, awaiting disposition, trial, or sentencing.
A small number, approximately 120 in total, are either awaiting assessment by Crown Counsel or have been returned to the police for further information or follow-up.
After media reports about the statements made to the Kelowna City Council, the officer in charge contacted senior Crown Counsel, specifically acknowledging that the statements had been inaccurate and apologizing for making them.
There will be no further comment on this matter by the BC Prosecution Service.”