Criminal defence lawyer says jail is not the solution for repeat offenders, complex care is

Saanich's Shelbourne corridor has seen a spike in crime over the last three months. According to police, it started when the former Mount Tolmie Hospital was taken over by BC Housing.

"We're hearing more about break-ins, we're hearing more about just threats,” said Ryon Bateman, acting president of the Mount Tolmie Community Association.

The Saanich Police Department is pointing to a 39 per cent rise in calls for service to the area.

"What is important to keep in mind is that those are not all criminal calls,” said Const. Markus Anastasiades, spokesperson for Saanich police.

“They are mainly calls to check the welfare of individuals and/or investigate suspicious activities."

Anastasiades says there has been an increase in break-ins in the area, resulting in two arrests.

Back in August, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps sent a letter to B.C. Attorney General David Eby saying this policy of “catch and release” is not working.

Eby says in many cases jail is not the answer, complex care is the way to go. Offering people housing and mental health care can be more successful.

Criminal lawyer Michael Mulligan agrees.

"We need to deal with those complex issues,” Mulligan says. “They are complex and dealing with them is not easy or it is not inexpensive.”

He says putting someone suffering from addiction issues and mental illness in jail for a few months is only pushing the problem down the road.

"You haven't cured their mental illness, you haven't sorted out their drug addiction,” said Mulligan. “When they get back out, they are still going to be mentally ill and drug addicted."