British Columbia leads country in police-related deaths: report

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      More people die in B.C. jails or as a result of police action than in any other province in Canada.

      According to a report released today (October 27) by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, 267 people died while in the custody of law-enforcement officials between 1992 and 2007.

      On October 6, Vancouver police Chief Jim Chu voiced his support for a new, civilian-led unit with a proposed mandate of investigating complaints levelled against both RCMP and municipal police forces. Going further, Chu stated: “I strongly urge the government to consider expanding the mandate of this proposed agency to handle all complaints against police, not just in-custody deaths or serious injury.”

      The BCCLA’s October 27 media release notes that of the provinces examined, B.C. had the largest number of police-involved deaths per year per capita.

      B.C. has seen one death for every 254,550 people per year. In comparison, Ontario has had one death for every 1.63 million people per year, New Brunswick has had one death for every 457,000 people per year, and there has been one death for every 392,100 people per year in Saskatchewan.

      Statistics for Manitoba, Quebec, Nova Scotia, PEI, Newfoundland, and Nunavut were not available.

      In conjunction with the report’s release, the BCCLA has announced it will hold a series of free public forums on the issue of in-custody and police-involved deaths. Events are being planned for Victoria, Prince George, Vancouver, and Kamloops. Dates and locations for Vancouver are yet to be announced.

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