Riot marks increasing violence at Burnaby Youth Custody Centre in B.C.

The BCGEU/NUPGE calls on the Representative for Children and Youth to conduct an independent review of the conditions and circumstances that led to a riot like this occurring.

Burnaby, B.C. (21 July 2016) — The 6-hour riot that took place at the Burnaby Youth Custody Centre (BYCC) on July 19 is the latest indication of escalating levels of violence at the facility. In recent months, officers at the facility have reported increasing levels of inmate-on-inmate violence and inmate-on-staff assaults.

BCGEU/NUPGE predicted rise in violence due to cost cutting

The rise coincides with the closure of the Victoria Youth Custody Centre (VYCC) in 2014. The Burnaby centre now also holds young offenders from Vancouver Island.

“Correction officers predicted there would be increasing violence at the Burnaby centre with the closure of VYCC,” said Dean Purdy, Vice-President of Corrections and Sheriff Services for the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE). “More and more, we are working with young offenders who have mental health problems and gang affiliations."

“Cost cutting means these young offenders are shuttled back and forth between Burnaby and Vancouver Island for court appearances. Too often they are locked up for extended periods of time instead of getting the support and services they need. This is bad for these young offenders, and bad for prison safety and public safety," Purdy said.

Independant review needed to assess the circumstances leading to the riot

The B.C. Liberal government’s decision to close VYCC was roundly condemned by the BCGEU/NUPGE, First Nations, the Representative for Children and Youth (RCY), legal experts, local mayors and police chiefs.

The BCGEU/NUPGE calls on the RCY to conduct an independent review of the conditions and circumstances that led to a riot like this occurring.

Develop alternative uses for former Victoria Youth Custody Centre

To address concerns about violence in B.C. youth custody, the provincial government should explore other options for the VYCC facility, including:

  • alternative capacity uses for the centre;
  • reaching out in the community to explore options and to seek support; and
  • exploring housing youth females at both VYCC & Prince George Youth Custody Centre.

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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