Criminals who flee to other provinces to avoid prosecution will face additional jail time, the federal government announced yesterday as one of several proposed amendments to the Criminal Code designed to streamline the justice system.
Skipping town could add six months to two years to a sentence, Foreign Affairs Minister Stockwell Day said at police headquarters in Vancouver.
The amendments, introduced in the House of Commons yesterday, would also allow the fingerprinting and photographing of people suspected of committing serious offences before they are charged.
Other initiatives proposed include:
• Greater access to telephone warrants.
• More time for lawyers to respond to surprise witnesses.
• Updated rules for agents in criminal proceedings.
• Expanding the list of permitted prize-fighting sports to include those that use feet, like mixed martial arts.
Chief Const. Jim Chu said the long-standing issue of non-returnable warrants will have the greatest impact in Vancouver because criminals tend to migrate to the West Coast.
Details, including who gets stuck with the bill and which jurisdiction is responsible for physically transporting the criminals, have yet to be worked out, Day said.
A 2006 VPD report found that Vancouver officers stopped 50 people who were wanted for crimes in other jurisdictions on a daily basis.
In early 2008, Vancouver police began a “Con Air” program to fly people with outstanding warrants home.
Day said the new legislation goes further than Con Air because it brings someone home to face justice and tacks on extra jail time.