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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. salmon farms challenge activists’ demands for site closures

News reporting also unfair, inaccurate and distorted

City of Port Alberni applies for grant funding for Quay to Quay pathway

Pathway connecting Harbour Quay and Victoria Quay could come with a $7 million price tag

Food trucks find space at Clutesi Haven Marina in Port Alberni

‘Food truck pod’ is a partnership between city, port authority and Tseshaht First Nation

Guest choreographer takes the ice with Mount Arrowsmith skaters

Mount Arrowsmith skating season is underway, with COVID-19 protocols in place

RCMP investigating after tires slashed in Port Alberni neighbourhood

RCMP are looking for anyone with information or video surveillance

105 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death as health officials urge B.C. to remember safety protocols

There are currently 1268 active cases, with 3,337 people under public health monitoring

B.C. nurses report rise in depression, anxiety, exhaustion due to pandemic

A new UBC study looks into how the COVID-19 response has impacted frontline nurses

National child-care plan could help Canada rebound from COVID-induced economic crisis: prof

A $2 billion investment this year could help parents during second wave of pandemic

Search suspended for Indigenous elder last seen mushroom picking in northwest B.C.

Mushroom picker Thomas (Tommy) Dennis has been missing since Sept. 16

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

16 MLAs retiring from B.C. politics add up to $20M in pensions: Taxpayers Federation

Taxpayers pay $4 for every dollar MLAs contribute to their pensions

‘Bonnie’ and ‘Henry’ among latest litter of service dog puppies

B.C. Alberta Guide Dogs names two pups after provincial health officer

B.C. VOTES 2020: Few solutions offered for ‘out of control’ camping

B.C. Liberals, NDP spend millions as problem keeps growing

Most Read