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Stricter bail a ‘balancing act’ with overrepresented groups: police chiefs

OTTAWA — The leader of Canada’s police chiefs says it’s a balancing act to toughen up the bail system without the risk of more people of colour ending up behind bars.

Danny Smyth, president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, made the comments today after meeting other chiefs to discuss opportunities for more immigrants to become officers.

His comments come as the federal Liberal cabinet meets ahead of Parliament’s return next month, when housing, immigration and bail reform are expected to top the government agenda. 

Following a spate of high-profile violent crimes — including fatal shootings of officers — the police chiefs were among the voices calling on Ottawa to reform the bail system to make it harder for certain accused people to return to the community.

Criminal justice experts say Black and Indigenous people are already overrepresented in the system and have difficulty getting bail as it is.

Smyth says while reforming the bail system is a “balancing act,” he sees federal proposals as focused on repeat violent offenders. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug.22, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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