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British Columbia B.C. proposes stronger security for witnesses testifying at criminal trials

British Columbia is proposing changes to its witness-protection program in order to strengthen security for people who could provide police with information on serious crimes.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says people with intimate details about organized crime, for example, should not feel their life will be in danger if they co-operate with police.

He says in a release that proposed measures are expected to build on the federal witness-protection program in cases that hinge on testimony from informants or an accused person’s former accomplices.

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Farnworth says stringent requirements for the federal program can lead to delays and low witness retention that compromises prosecutions and frustrates police agencies that have worked for months to secure someone’s testimony.

He says the proposed act means prosecutors and police do not have to solely rely on the federal program and it would be in keeping with programs in other provinces that help witnesses to safely attend trial and testify in court.

The province says the proposed program is being developed with input from the RCMP, the provincial and federal Crown and other jurisdictions.

“To combat gun and gang violence, what is required is a multipronged approach, which is what we are working on and this proposed legislation supports that,” Farnworth says.

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