Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo says change can't come soon enough to B.C.'s "catch-and-release" justice system.
Kyllo says public fear is on the rise due to what he calls an "explosion of crime in our neighbourhoods."
The BC Liberal politician says criminal activity and random attacks are part of an increase in crime severity that "goes hand-in-hand with the prevalence of no-charge repeat offenders who continue to roam the streets under this government's catch-and-release criminal justice system.
He says police officers work hard, putting their safety on the line to catch criminals – only to have them released by the system.
The BC Urban Mayors Caucus raised alarm bells about a 75 per cent increase in the rate of no-charge assessments, and Kyllo cites Statistic Canada numbers that show violent crime in B.C. has increased by 30 per cent.
Vancouver Police reported that assaults against peace officers increased by 14.1 per cent between 2020 and 2021. Earlier this week, a Victoria police officer was allegedly stabbed with a needle during an overdose response.
Recent crimes in the Shuswap have included a dog being stabbed to death, a violent incident in which a man was struck by a vehicle and died, and a road rage incident that sent two women to hospital.
"I regularly hear from residents and business owners in the Shuswap whose lives are impacted by the lack of public safety. The worsening outcomes in our communities shows that we need a new approach," he says.
Kyllo says the Opposition is calling on the province to direct Crown counsel "to ensure that public safety is prioritized over the rights of a repeat offender."
"It's unacceptable that in Vancouver alone, four people get randomly attacked daily, or that serious assaults with a weapon or causing serious bodily harm increased by 28.5 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels," he said.
"Government needs to act now, and act as if lives depend on it – because they do."