British Columbia

High-risk offenders: how many are living in B.C.?

After a high-risk offender released into the community in Surrey, B.C., was arrested and charged with the murder of a 17-year-old teenage girl this week, questions have arisen about how well he was being monitored, and about how many others are living in B.C. neighbourhoods.

From 2011 to 2013, there were 115 people living in B.C. communities designated high risk

A convicted rapist who was released from prison is accused of murdering 17-year-old Serena Vermeersch 2:08

After a high-risk offender released into the community in Surrey, B.C., was arrested and charged with the murder of a 17-year-old teenage girl this week, questions have arisen about how well he was being monitored, and about how many others are living in B.C. neighbourhoods.

Parole board review documents noted that Raymond Lee Caissie, 43, was considered a high risk to re-offend in the summer of 2013, but he served his time and the current law dictated he had to be released.

The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team's Sgt. Jennifer Pound was on the defensive Thursday, at suggestions that the RCMP didn't do enough to keep tabs on Caissie.

"I believed the minister came out and has informed you that the safeguards that were in place, the processes, the procedures that they were to follow, were followed," Pound said.

Police in B.C. issue an alert when it is considered to be in the public's interest to know a high-risk offender is living in their community. This photo is from the June 2013 public alert issued for Raymond Lee Caissie​. (RCMP)

But B.C. Minister of Justice and Attorney General Suzanne Anton did say there would be a review of procedures to ensure that different agencies are properly tracking high-risk offenders.

"They will be looking to make sure — to see if there were other things that could have been done," she said.

Anton indicated it might be time to review recommendations and rules around electronic monitoring of high-risk offenders. She also said this week that she was talking with Federal Minister of Justice Peter MacKay around how high-risk offenders are handled in Canada. 

Public warning issued

B.C. Corrections did issue a public warning about Caissie in June 2013 — one of the many steps it takes when a high-risk offender is released.

The province's Ministry of Justice says B.C. Corrections also conducts home visits, refers offenders to counselling and other programs to address behavioural changes, monitors the progress of offenders' treatment plans, and works with police and other agencies to monitor the offender's compliance with court-ordered conditions, including curfew checks.

The ministry says there are currently 31 offenders "assessed as high risk to reoffend" in British Columbia who have court orders imposed on them under Section 810.1 or 810.2.

Electronic monitoring is currently being used to assist in the supervision of two of them.

On its website, the ministry says it will pursue a peace bond under Section 810.1 of the Criminal Code "in cases where a person fears another person will commit a sexual offence against a child under the age of 16."

"A Section 810.2 is pursued when a person fears another person may commit an indictable offence (other than treason or murder) for which the offender may be sent to imprisonment for 10 or more years, including sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon and aggravated sexual assault."

Under a recognizance order, or peace bond, a person must promise to keep the peace and abide by conditions set out by the court.

From 2011 to 2013, there were 115 people living in B.C. communities who were designated as high-risk offenders under Section 810.

With files from the CBC's Eric Rankin, Jason Proctor, and Yvette Brend

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