British Columbians Dissatisfied with Current State of Justice System

People in British Columbia hold very critical views of the justice system in their province, with a sizeable majority suggesting that it requires more resources to process cases effectively, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll conducted in partnership with CTV and the Globe and Mail has found.

In the online survey of a representative provincial sample of 803 British Columbian adults, 30 per cent of respondents believe that there has been an increase in the amount of crime in their community over the past five years. These results on perceptions of crime are significantly lower than what was observed last year in similar surveys conducted in Britain (35%), Canada (39%) and the United States (45%).

Across the province, only 27 per cent of respondents express “complete confidence” or “a lot of confidence” in the internal operations and leadership of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). More than a third of British Columbians (35%) say they currently have “not much confidence” or “no confidence at all” in the force.

Respondents to this survey were asked about five different elements of the justice system. Most British Columbians (51%) believe the province’s criminal courts do a good job in determining whether or not an accused person is guilty, but only one third (32%) believe that the justice system treats every person fairly.

Only 27 per cent of respondents think the province’s judges do a good job handing out punishments and sentences to people who commit crimes, and just one-in-five (21%) believe the justice system in British Columbia has enough resources to efficiently process cases. The reviews are particularly dismal for rehabilitation, with only 14 per cent of respondents agreeing with the notion that the prison system does a good job in helping prisoners become law-abiding.

Two-in-five British Columbians (40%) are undecided when asked to pick any of the four major parties as the best one to deal with issues related to law and order. The level of support for the New Democratic Party (NDP) (15%), the BC Liberals (14%) and the BC Conservatives (14%) is practically the same.

In Metro Vancouver, 61 per cent of respondents support creating a single police force that would oversee the entire Lower Mainland.

Full Report, Detailed Tables and Methodology (PDF)

Methodology: From April 16 to April 17, 2013, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 803 randomly selected British Columbia adults who are Angus Reid Forum panellists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.5%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of British Columbia. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

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