Several food and beverage industry organizations have joined forces with local authorities to deter criminals and to ensure safe environments for staff and the public in Surrey.
Surrey RCMP, the City of Surrey, the B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association (BCRFA), and Restaurants Canada have all teamed up to launch the Inadmissible Patrons Program (IPP) in Surrey.
The program, modelled after the Vancouver Police Department's Restaurant Watch program which launched in 2008 and includes over 150 businesses, was developed in response to a recommendation in the Mayor's Task Force on Gang Violence Prevention Report (released in July) as well as the 2017 B.C. Task Force on Illegal Firearms.
"After seeing the success the Restaurant Watch program had in significantly reducing gang violence in and around Vancouver restaurants, many of our members have been asking for similar programs in their municipalities," Restaurants Canada vice-president of Western Canada Mark von Schellwitz stated in a news release.
The New Westminster Police Department introduced their own IPP initiative in 2013. Abbotsford and Chilliwack also have Bar Watch programs. Discussions about an IPP program in Surrey have been ongoing for over a decade.
IPP is designed to address the presence of criminals at licensed establishments and to increase public safety.
"The Inadmissible Patrons Program will not only identify gang members and individuals associated with violent crime, but the program will also allow for police to remove them immediately from the premises," Mayor Doug McCallum stated in a news release.
Through authorization agreements and the B.C. Trespass Act, police with have the authorization to remove individuals who are considered "inadmissible patrons" from establishments participating in the program.
Surrey RCMP explained the definition of an "inadmissible patron" in a December 6 news release.
"An inadmissible patron is defined as a person whose lifestyle, associations and/or activities pose a risk to public safety, either directly or from third parties," the RCMP statement reads. "This includes people who are involved with or associated to organized crime, gangs, and the drug trade."
According to RCMP, each case will be assessed individually, complete bans won't be instituted, and lists of inadmissible patrons won't be created.
The program is beginning with seven participating restaurants and bars, which will display the IPP logo in windows or other visible locations, with more establishments to be added later on and plans for future expansion, possibly to other types of businesses as well.
Establishments interested in joining the program can contact Surrey RCMP by email.
"This program also gives our Surrey Gang Enforcement Team an additional point of contact with gang members so we can continue to make it uncomfortable for those involved in organized or violent crime to be in this city," Surrey RCMP officer-in-charge and assistant commissioner Dwayne McDonald stated in a news release.
In February, CBC News reported that the VPD program has faced criticism, such as the B.C. Civil Liberties Association deeming it problematic for providing too much discretion to police.