VANCOUVER – Hiding in British Columbia from out-of province arrest Warrants just got harder for fugitives trying to escape justice, thanks to a new partnership between police, both RCMP and municipal police departments, Crown and the BC Sherriff Service, Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond announced on Monday.
Police chiefs from throughout the province have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to formally clear the way for all policing agencies in the province to take part in the new Fugitive Return Program. It builds on the success of the Vancouver Police Department’s Con Air program, which since 2008, has transported 98 fugitives out of B.C. to face charges, and a similar program at Victoria PD.
So far the Province has contributed $100,000 to these initiatives through grants from its Civil Forfeiture Program (CFO). Now, at least $40,000 from CFO will go into the fund annually with more available if needed.
Under the MOU, the Province is funding a Fugitive Return Program co-coordinator within the RCMP major crime section who will work with police agencies as a single point of contact, maintaining a list that prioritizes fugitive returns – putting prolific offenders and high-risk persons wanted for serious offences and violent crimes, including known gangsters, at the top of the list. BC Sheriffs will escort the fugitives to face justice in the jurisdiction where the warrant was issued. Police will contact the program for funding these returns. They also retain the option of sending fugitives out of province on their own dime.
The provincial Fugitive Return Program, the first of its kind in Canada, is part of the provincial government’s commitment to public safety. It gets wanted criminals out of B.C. communities and holds them accountable for their crimes.
Shirley Bond, Minister of Justice and Attorney General said, “Our government is committed to innovative justice sector reforms that put the safety of our communities first. B.C. has long been a leader in police integration and information-sharing and the provincial Fugitive Return Program shows how that approach strengthens public safety and sends a clear message to criminals that they won’t escape justice in B.C.”
Vancouver Police Chief Constable Jim Chu, said “With the very welcome creation of the Fugitive Return Program the province of British Columbia is taking a major step towards closing the loopholes and avenues available to criminals fleeing justice.”
“This program will build on the success of Con Air and make B.C. a much less attractive destination for criminals on the run.”