Regulatory changes under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) announced today support the Province’s actions to discourage youth from joining gangs and engaging in criminal activity.
These changes will give the Civil Forfeiture Office (CFO) the same access to youth records as a number of government bodies. This will increase its ability to pursue referrals involving youth, diminishing the incentive for criminals to use young people as tools in illegal activity, such as drug trafficking.
Each year, the CFO receives a number of referrals from police that involve youth, but in order to pursue these cases, the CFO must apply to court to obtain the youth records. Although the CFO has never been denied access to these records, the court process is expensive and time consuming, resulting in the office declining some of these referrals. Dropping these files can result in money being returned to suspected drug traffickers, which in turn reinforces the value of exploiting youth to deliver drugs and money.
Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton -
“Our goal is to prevent young people from taking part in organized crime and to prevent gangs from leveraging the youth of B.C. to take part in illegal acts, such as drug trafficking. With these changes, criminals should now know they can no longer hide their drugs or other tools of illegal activity by using a young person to do their dirty work.”
- Civil forfeiture actions, like all civil litigation in British Columbia, are governed by the Supreme Court Rules which contain provisions regarding the rights and protections of young persons involved in litigation.
- Safeguards are in place to ensure the continuing protection of the youth’s identity at every stage of the forfeiture process.
- Along with these additional protections, young persons involved in civil forfeiture actions have the opportunity to have their side of the story heard by a judge.
- The CFO funds youth crime prevention initiatives through its grant program. In March 2014, government awarded over $1.1 million in grants to 42 separate youth crime prevention programs.
- The amendment is to an existing provincial schedule that currently allows access to these records by WorkSafeBC, the Ministry of Children and Family Development, the Representative for Children and Youth, and the director of the Crime Victim Assistance Program.
- Since the CFO became active in 2006, it has returned more than $16 million from successful forfeiture actions in the form of grants to crime prevention programs, victims of fraud and phony investment schemes, and victim services programs.
- The Province invests $22 million a year in combating guns, gangs and organized crime.
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Justice