Officers from Surrey Pretrial Services Centre rallied outside of the centre on Friday (March 8) about the “unmanageable levels” of inmate-to-officer ratios at B.C. prisons. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

VIDEO: Officers rally as violence in B.C. jails hit all-time high

Inmate-to-officer ratio is ‘now as high as 72:1’: BCGEU

An officer with the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union says violence in jails is at an “all-time high” over the past five years and the inmate-to-officer ratios are at “unmanageable levels.”

Correctional officers were rallying outside of Surrey Pretrial Centre Friday morning (March 8) to bring attention to the rapidly increasing incidents of violence against correctional officers. Between 30 to 40 officers turned out for the rally.

Dean Purdy, B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU) vice-president for corrections and sheriff services, said prison violence has increased over the last five years at all seven of the province’s maximum-security jails, but the Surrey Pretrial Services Centre has probably had the most violence out of any of the jails.”

In a news release from the BCGEU, it says that prior to 2001, the inmate-to-officer ration in B.C.’s correctional facilities was capped at 20:1. The ratio, the release says, “is now as high as 72:1,” adding that recent statistics from Corrections BC “show that assaults on officers and inmate-on-inmate violence continues to rise.”

The 72:1 ration, Purdy said, is at “unmanageable levels.”

Purdy said the BCGEU has met with the NDP government and Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth about needing two correctional officers in every living unit.

“We’ve given (Farnworth) some ideas on what needs to be done to try and get out in front of the violence,” Purdy said. “We’re hopeful – we’re going to give it some time – but we’re really at wits end right now. We need some changes and we know that the real issues is the officer-to-inmate ratios.”

Purdy said that the officers know that 95 per cent of the violence “is typically done by three to five per cent of the inmates.”

“We’re saying those 95 per cent (who aren’t violent), treat them differently from the three to five per cent,” he said.

Purdy said there also needs to be more support for correctional officers who have to use force, adding that a lot of this push for better ratios started when eight correctional officers were fired from Fraser Regional Correctional Centre in Maple Ridge.

RELATED: Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

A recent audit of B.C.’s prison system finds that more inmates sharing living units than the B.C. Corrections set as its target of 32 per cent four years ago. Surrey Pretrial Centre was fourth highest at 49 per cent.

RELATED: B.C. officers to protest violence against prison guards

RELATED: ‘Double-bunking’ still a problem for B.C. provincial jails

– With a file from Tom Fletcher



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Lauren on Twitter

Just Posted

Flood evacuation in Fairmont; residents able to return home

Evacuation alerts remain in place for Fairmont Creek and Cold Spring Creek.

Copper Point Golf Course copes with COVID-19 safety measures

General manager says golf is one of few sports where implementing safety measures is fairly simple

Freshwater turtle sightings

Stewardship group wants to know where you’ve seen turtles in the Columbia Valley

Radium author launches book

Radium Hot Springs author Brent Lea launches thriller set in the great outdoors of southeastern B.C.

Helping our community during COVID-19

A high school student’s perspective

B.C. records four new COVID-19 cases, Abbotsford hospital outbreak cleared

Four senior home outbreaks also declared over, eight still active

RCMP, coroner investigate murder-suicide on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

About 30% of B.C. students return to schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

B.C.’s Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics goes virtual

The annual event partnering RCMP with Special Olympians is dramatically altered by COVID-19

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Bateman program encourages people to sketch outside, connect with nature

#MyNatureSketch initiative encourages Canadians to become ‘bright-eyed three year olds’

Be cautious expanding COVID-19 bubble, Dr. Bonnie Henry tells B.C.

Senior homes stay off-limits as schools, businesses reopen

Most Read