Many RCMP detachments across Alberta, Strathmore’s included, are moving to a new pre-charge approval process with Alberta Crown Prosecution Services. 

This change is meant to help reduce delays in bringing individuals to trial. As it currently stands, more than half of detachments across the province have been phased into this new process. The goal for the RCMP is to see 100 per cent compliance by the end of spring this year. 

One of the changes being implemented due to the new process is individuals who have been arrested, as well as their charges will no longer be public information, and will only be provided if charges are ultimately laid. 

Language used by the RCMP to inform news organizations as well as the public will shift to that such as “A suspect has been arrested in relation to X incident and charges are pending Crown approval. An update is anticipated once charges are laid.”

It will be a minor change to their process.

“It is a slight change in the way that we have been doing business with sending people to court. Essentially with criminal matters, we now do our investigation, we send it to a crown officer who will then review everything, and if there is extra investigation they want us to do prior to information or the charges being sworn, they will indicate that, they will decline to proceed with charges, or they will say everything is ready and it will move forward,” said Sgt. Jay Salmon, speaking on behalf of Strathmore RCMP. “For us, it is just an extra step and it will help the crown filter out matters that are best dealt with at court, or if they feel there is insufficient evidence to secure a conviction, they can then either indicate further investigation to be done or the file will not proceed any further.”

Salmon added the change is intended to help make the court system more efficient. Under the old system, the first time a Crown prosecutor saw an accused person’s file was at their first appearance.

This new system will have Crown prosecutors viewing documents and assessing the charges before cases are brought before the courts.

“The potential is there for cases to move through more quickly because they have already been reviewed once, the Crown does not need to look at it again, so they know if it is to the point of being on the docket and information is sworn, they know it is a viable charge,” said Salmon.

This change is new for the Strathmore RCMP Detachment, but has been in the process of implementation across the province for more than a year. 

By John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jan 26, 2024 at 21:52

This item reprinted with permission from   Strathmore Times   Strathmore, Alberta

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