Bail reform needed to protect Ontarians and keep communities safe
Police Association of Ontario President told MPPs changes can be done now to protect people.
TORONTO – January 31, 2023
On Tuesday, Mark Baxter the President of the Police Association of Ontario (PAO) spoke with Ontario MPPs at Ontario’s Standing Committee on Justice Policy about needed reform of the bail system in Canada to keep people and communities safe. The PAO was one of a few organizations providing testimony to explain the front-line reality of how the current bail system is failing to keep Ontarians safe.
“Every day our members go to work to keep communities throughout Ontario safe. But an obstacle to doing that work is the current bail system, especially as it relates to people who are known to be dangerous,” said Baxter. “Members of the policing community, and the communities they serve, are frustrated that the bail system is failing to prioritize their safety. They’re frustrated that a known offender is apprehended one day and back to committing the same crime the next.“
People should not be denied bail unreasonably, but as it relates to chronic offenders and those who have been apprehended while in possession of a prohibited weapon, the public expects that in the name of public safety they will not be released unless there is a compelling reason and a sensible plan to ensure that they are not at risk of reoffending while awaiting trial. But currently, there are not enough resources to ensure a sensible plan is in place and being followed.
“Accused persons who immediately pose a risk to public safety are routinely released on bail. And confidence in the criminal justice system is consistently undermined as a result. Leaving our community members at risk and feeling unsafe,” added Baxter. “The entire bail cycle needs a reform to fix this system that is failing Ontarians and there are steps that can be taken right away to start working on solutions.”
While the PAO stressed that an overhaul of the bail system is needed, they pointed to two solutions that governments can take to immediately start addressing problems:
- Evaluating the practice of dropping bail condition breaches from a list of charges by chronic offenders in order for the court to be aware of previous breaches of bail conditions before making a recommendation.
- Consistent framework and enforcement to ensure that individuals released with conditions are complying with those conditions with adequate policing resources for dedicated bail enforcement units.
About the Police Association of Ontario (PAO):
Founded in 1933, the Police Association of Ontario (PAO) is the official provincial representative body for over 28,000 sworn and civilian police personnel from 45 police associations across Ontario. A unifying voice for advocacy in policing, the PAO provides its member associations with representation, resource and support.
Kiki Cloutier, Earnscliffe Strategies
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