Outstanding Warrants (Synopsis)

Alberta Justice and Solicitor General

Description: Warrants are issued in cases where an individual does not appear in court as required, or does not pay a fine by a specified due date as required by a provincial statute or municipal bylaw. Despite several initiatives targeting outstanding warrants in the past two years, the number of outstanding warrants in Alberta continues to increase, rising to over 171,000. A 2007 Provincial Offences Procedure Act committee review report made recommendations to change how non-motor-vehicle-related provincial and bylaw infractions with specified penalties of $1,000 or less were enforced, and stated that arrest and incarceration were not appropriate methods of enforcement for these less serious infractions.

In response, the Outstanding Warrants Process Review Working Group, consisting of representatives from Alberta Justice and Solicitor General (Public Security, Correctional Services, IT, Court Services, Criminal Justice, and JOIN Operations) and the RCMP was created to examine opportunities for improving management of outstanding warrants. A consultant was also hired to assist the working group in analyzing the volume of outstanding warrants, developing plans to address stale warrants, and improving business practices.
Objective: The key objectives of this exercise are to reduce the number of outstanding warrants, relieve the backlog and better manage the use of policing resources.
Outcomes: The Outstanding Warrants Process Review Working Group produced a report in August 2011 proposing five key projects to address outstanding warrants in Alberta and improve associated business processes. Those currently underway include: improving and standardizing the warrants processes; maintaining comprehensive baseline data; and creating incentives to reduce the number of matters going to warrant. Recommendations to collect debts on outstanding fines and address the current backlog of warrants have not yet been addressed. The Alberta government selected two of the five proposed initiatives to address existing warrants: the Prosecution Service Historical Warrant Review Process and the Sheriff Services’ Warrant Review Process. To reduce the number of new warrants issued in the future, it is proposed that amendments be made to the Provincial Offences Procedure Act.
Resources: A consultant was contracted in June 2012 to assist with the ongoing work on the outstanding warrants process.
Province: Alberta
Record Entry Date: 2013-08-01
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