Downtown Community Court in Vancouver working
B.C.'s justice minister says results from 6-year pilot project's final evaluation are encouraging
B.C. Justice Minister Suzanne Anton says the final review of the effectiveness of Vancouver's Downtown Community Court, shows fewer people are re-offending, which is "the most important thing a courtroom can do."
The court was established in 2008 deal with small-time, repeat offenders who often cope with mental illness and have problems with substance abuse.
In its final evaluation of the community court, the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch found a statistically significant reduction in offenders committing new offences compared to a control group from the neighbouring provincial court.
However the report didn't find that the community court improved courtroom efficiency measured by the average number of appearances per case and the time required to conclude those cases.
Anton says her ministry will now study the findings, which will help determine the value of these types of specialized courts.
"There's a lot of interest in specialized courts, First Nations courts, restorative justice," she said. "So what's the right formula? That's what we're looking at right now."
Surrey wants community courts
Surrey has been calling for community courts of its own to deal with its crime problems, and Anton says government is considering five new courts there.
"So it's the right time [to consider whether to put a community court there]," said Anton. "And we're working with the mayor and the community to determine what is the best use of those courtrooms."
Anton says the government has no plans to close Vancouver's Downtown Community Court following its final evaluation. The court will continue to serve Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
The six-year pilot project is the first of its kind in Canada.