B.C.’s Attorney General says with additional funding, dozens of new sheriffs will be in provincial courtrooms this year.
Suzanne Anton has been under fire after two accused drug dealers were recently released in Victoria because not enough sheriffs were available.
Anton says in one of the incidents, the accused hadn’t shown on their original court date so proceedings had to be rescheduled.
She adds the situation is unacceptable and that the problem is being rectified.
“I have two classes of sheriffs coming through this year. There’ll be 24 new sheriffs in May, another 24 in October, and I’ve got over $2.5 million in my budget to make that happen.”
Anton says the new staff will join the 481 sheriffs already working in the province and plans are being made to ensure enough are available in Victoria immediately.
She adds what happened at the Victoria Court House this past week was exacerbated by high demand, coinciding with four sheriffs out sick.
‘Too little too late”
But NDP Critic Mike Farnworth disagrees with Anton’s estimates and says what she’s is offering is coming too late.
“During that four years we’ve seen the number of sheriffs in this province decline from 500 to 420. From 35 in to 21 here in Victoria. Adding a class is not going to solve the problem.”
Concerns surrounding sheriff shortages in Victoria have been raised with the government starting a year ago.