B.C. urged to redeploy justice resources after report finds 11-to-1 staff-youth ratio

  • Canadian Press

VICTORIA — A new report has found that the number of young offenders in British Columbia has "dramatically decreased," putting the ratio of staff to youth in custody at almost 11−to−one.

The report from Jennifer Charlesworth, B.C.’s representative for children and youth, says the numbers highlight "a golden opportunity" for government to better reallocate justice−related resources to the people who need them.

Charlesworth says the report is not intended to recommend cuts to provincial spending on the youth justice system, but rather the creation of new guidelines to redistribute resources to avoid waste.

Charlesworth says items worth reconsidering include the pending closure this year of the Youth Custody Centre in Prince George, B.C., which would force young offenders in the northern part of the province to be placed far from their communities.

She says the province should look at retaining a six−bed temporary detention facility in Prince George, and that more engagement with groups such as the First Nations Justice Council and local communities should take place to decide how to use the resources.

The report says the average daily number of youth in custody in B.C. has fallen from 386 in 1997/1998 to as low as 11 in 2021/2022.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2024.

The Canadian Press