Parliamentary Committee Notes: Police Support for Bail Reform
Date: March 15, 2023
Fully releasable (ATIP)? Yes
Branch / Agency: Contract and
Indigenous Policing, RCMP
- The Government will continue to engage with the Canadian law enforcement community, including the RCMP, in meaningful discussions on the bail system.
- The law enforcement community has emphasized to me their view that reforms of Canada’s bail system should seek to make public and police officer safety a top priority, while always endeavouring to protect life and property, preserve peace, and enforce the law.
- The RCMP is assessing its data as it relates to chronic, violent offenders to further identify links and impacts to the bail system.
- The RCMP is the police service for about 22% of Canada’s population across about 75% of Canada’s geographic land mass. Much of this is in rural parts of the country faced with complex community issues that are beyond law enforcement’s role in the administration of justice.
- A holistic approach to bail reform would consider lawful tools, as well as engagement and collaboration between agencies, including those with links to community and support services.
RCMP officers are assigned to contract policing in eight provinces (all but Ontario and Quebec), all territories and 153 municipalities. Under the Police Service Agreements, the RCMP is the police service for about 22 per cent of Canada’s population in about 75 per cent of Canada’s geographic land mass and in much of rural Canada.
RCMP National Data - Homicide Counts
Between 2019 and 2022, over half (approximately 53 per cent) of the homicides in RCMP jurisdiction where a suspect chargeable was identified or chargedFootnote1 were committed by individuals who were either in custody or under community supervision (e.g. remand, sentenced custody, probation, bail, among other options)Footnote2 at the time of the offence.
Between 2019 and 2022, on average more than 10 per cent of the homicides in RCMP jurisdiction where a suspect chargeable was identified or charged were committed by individuals with a confirmed history of intimate partner violence.
Recent Correspondence and Appearances on Bail Reform
On January 9, 2023, the Winnipeg Police Service Chief, who is also the President of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP), posted a letter online titled “The Bail System is Failing Our Communities”. In his letter, the Chief advocates for those offenders who have clearly demonstrated an unrelenting willingness to engage in violent behavior. This means greater weight must be attributed to this chronic behaviour when considering bail. The most effective way to reduce victimization by chronic offenders is to incarcerate them for periods of time commensurate with their pattern of offending.
On January 13, 2023, the Prime Minister received a letter from all provincial and territorial premiers calling on the federal government to commit to a thorough review of the bail system in Canada. Specifically, a call for a reverse onus on bail to be created for the offence, possession of a loaded prohibited or restricted firearm in s. 95 of the Code. A person accused of a s. 95 offence would have to demonstrate why their detention is not justified when they were alleged to have committed an offence where there was imminent risk to the public. This change would make bail harder to obtain for those facing charges related to the possession of a loaded, prohibited, or restricted firearm.
On January 14, 2023, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Commissioner wrote a letter to the Minister of Public Safety, calling on the Minister to consider how the federal government can expeditiously action meaningful bail reform changes to address the officer and public safety concerns associated with granting bail to chronic offenders who have been charged with violent firearm-related offences, The OPP Commissioner also made reference to CACP Resolution #09-2008, Chronic Offenders, which called on the federal government to change bail and sentencing laws so chronic offenders are more effectively dealt with by taking into account their habitual criminal behavior.
On January 26, 2023, the RCMP Commissioner wrote a letter to the Minister of Public Safety Canada reiterating the call by the Canadian law enforcement community for federal bail reform to address officer and public safety risks caused by releasing chronic violent offenders on bail while they await trial. The letter indicated that the RCMP is conducting an in-depth assessment of the national data and that analysis would be shared with the Minister upon completion. The Commissioner offered to provide any additional information that could help to positively inform bail reform discussions.
On March 6, 2023, RCMP Chief Superintendent Syd Lecky, Commanding Officer North West Territories, appeared before the JUST committee on Bail Reform to speak on the impacts he has witnessed over the years on communities, as well as the public and officer safety risks caused by releasing chronic, violent offenders. He also highlighted the RCMP’s support to a balanced approach to bail reform that considers overrepresentation of racialized people in prisons, and the rights of the accused.
Prepared by: Konrad Roberts, A/Dir. Strategic Policy, Operational Research and Secretariat Services, Contract & Indigenous Policing, RCMP; (343) 542-2628
Approved by: Brian Brennan, Deputy Commissioner, Contract & Indigenous Policing, RCMP; (613) 843-4632
- Footnote 1
Definition of Charged / Suspect Chargeable (CSC)
A person that has been charged with a homicide, or against whom homicide-related charges have been laid or recommended by police to the Crown. Also included are those persons who have been legitimately cleared for other reasons.
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- Footnote 2
Definition of In Custody, or Under Community Supervision (i.e., remand, sentenced custody, probation, or bail)
For adult CSCs (18 years and older), this includes remand, sentenced custody, i.e., federal or provincial sentence, or intermittent sentence, other temporary detention, probation, conditional sentence, bail, or other community program. For youth CSCs (12 to 17 years of age), this includes pre-trial detention, provincial director remand, secure or open custody, community portion of a custody sentence, intensive or deferred custody / supervision, supervised probation, bail, or other community sentence.
Return to first footnote 2 referrer
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