MIKE Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, on Wednesday announced that the government has struck the Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act to conduct a wide-ranging review of B.C.’s Police Act. The all-party committee will engage with communities and experts, and provide recommendations on how the 45-year-old Police Act can be modernized to reflect today’s challenges and needs with respect to mental health, harm reduction and systemic racism.
Farnworth said: “Everyone deserves to be treated fairly in our province and we acknowledge that for many Black, Indigenous and other people of colour, that hasn’t always been the case.
“Ensuring the police are accountable to the highest standards for fair and unbiased conduct is crucial to maintaining public trust. Our government has strengthened the Independent Investigations Office and introduced new standards on police stops, which include not permitting arbitrary stops or ones based on race. But more can and must be done.
“BC’s Police Act is 45 years old. It’s out of date and out of step with our government’s approach to harm reduction and mental health. Expectations on front-line police responders have grown and our policing and public safety model needs to reflect communities’ current and future needs.”
Terms of Reference
1. Reforms related to independent oversight, transparency, governance, structure, service delivery, standards, funding, training and education, and any other considerations which may apply respecting the modernization and sustainability of policing under the Police Act and all related agreements.
2. The role of police with respect to complex social issues including mental health and wellness, addictions, and harm reduction; and in consideration of any appropriate changes to relevant sections of the Mental Health Act.
3. The scope of systemic racism within British Columbia’s police agencies, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, independent municipal police and designated policing units, and its impact on public safety and public trust in policing.
4. Whether there are measures necessary to ensure a modernized Police Act is consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007), as required by section 3 of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.