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For Immediate Release

Jan. 18, 2012

Ministry of Children and Family Development



B.C. enhancing youth custody services


VICTORIA – B.C. is enhancing services for youth in custody as part of a redesign undertaken to reflect low occupancy rates in the Province’s three centres in Burnaby, Victoria and Prince George.


With B.C.-wide occupancy currently at 65 per cent, B.C. Youth Custody Services can operate more efficiently by centralizing all girls’ services in Burnaby, reducing operating levels in Victoria and Prince George, and redirecting savings to expand rehabilitation services at all three centres.


The very small numbers of girls in Victoria and Prince George centres – sometimes only one or two at a time – has not allowed for the development of sustainable female-oriented programs in those centres. The centralization of girls’ services in Burnaby will create a larger grouping of girls and permit the development and enhancement of programs that, for example, address addictions and trauma typically experienced by girls.


Funding has also been set aside for a girls’ family visitation program in Burnaby, and for special female sheriffs’ escorts to expedite the transportation of girls to Burnaby from courts in outlying areas.


Other planned improvements to youth custody rehabilitation services include:


·         Enhancements to Aboriginal programs for the predominately Aboriginal youth in custody in Prince George. These service enhancements will be implemented after consultation with Aboriginal stakeholders.

·         Expanded mental health and addictions counselling and treatment services at the Victoria centre.


B.C. consistently has one of the lowest rates of youth custody in Canada, due its use of community-based alternative programs, treatment services and integrated service delivery. B.C.’s youth custody rates have fallen 75 per cent since 1995-96 – from a high of 400 to an average of 105 in 2011-12.





Minister of Children and Family Development, Mary McNeil –

“We have fewer and fewer youth incarcerated in B.C. – a credit to our system and our services. This now allows us to enhance rehabilitation services for youth at all three centres in the province.”


Elizabeth Fry Society of Greater Vancouver executive director Shawn Bayes –

“The Elizabeth Fry Society believes girls need support in addressing the issues that led to their justice system involvement rather than being placed in custody. While centralized female youth custody will be farther away for many, we believe it will also promote the use of alternatives to custody and decrease the number of girls sent to custody, which we welcome. We are encouraged to see the ministry taking steps in recognizing the needs of girls are different, and committing to the creation of gender-sensitive programs for girls in custody.”



Quick Facts:


·         B.C. currently spends $28.5 million annually on Youth Custody Services.

·         Average daily populations for girls in custody in Prince George and Victoria in 2011-12 were 2.1 and 4.6 (YTD), respectively.

·         Prior to the redesign B.C.’s operational capacity was 162 (84 in Burnaby, 36 in Prince George, 42 in Victoria). After the redesign, B.C.’s operational youth custody capacity will be 132 (84 in Burnaby, 24 in Prince George, 24 in Victoria) – enough to handle an approximate 25 per cent increase.

·         B.C.’s total per capita youth crime rate has been progressively decreasing – a 59 per cent decline between 1991 and 2010.

·         B.C.’s youth crime rate was the third-lowest in the country in 2010, while the violent crime rate in B.C. was the lowest in the country.



Learn More:


You can find more information about B.C.’s youth justice system and youth custody services at:


For more about the Elizabeth Fry Society of Greater Vancouver, please visit:





Cindy Rose

Manager, Media Relations

Ministry of Children and Family Development

250 356-1639

Karen McCluskey

Media Relations

Elizabeth Fry Society

778 319-0149


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