The Quesnel RCMP Detachment is one of seven northern police buildings which can now connect directly to Prince George for daily bail hearings. (Observer File Photo)

The Quesnel RCMP Detachment is one of seven northern police buildings which can now connect directly to Prince George for daily bail hearings. (Observer File Photo)

Bail hearings going virtual in B.C.’s north

A court pilot project will see virtual courtroom cameras set up in seven RCMP detatchments

Those accused of crimes in Northern B.C. will no longer have to wait as long to see if they will be released on bail.

In the past, those arrested in small towns with few provincial court hearings would be forced to sit in jail while waiting for a bail hearing or be transported to Prince George. That will change in some areas on Monday, April 19.

The province is beginning a pilot program installing Microsoft Teams units in RCMP detachments in Burns Lake, Dawson Creek, Fort Nelson, Kitimat, New Hazelton, Prince George and Quesnel.

Under provincial rules, if police wish to keep an accused person in custody, they must bring them in front of a judge for a hearing within 24 hours, but a bail hearing can be delayed for three days.

“Until last year, if the police did not agree to your release and you wanted a bail hearing before a judge, you would be held in custody while transport was arranged, then transported to Prince George to appear in court for the hearing,” a news bulletin from the provincial court website reads. “If you were released on bail, you’d find yourself in Prince George, far from home, perhaps with no way to get back.”

Now, if an accused person requires a bail hearing they will be able to attend court presided over by a judge in Prince George while still in custody inside a smaller RCMP detachment. Lawyers for the crown and duty counsel will appear from their own offices.

Duty counsel are legal aid lawyers who help with first appearances in court.

The bulletin notes the project aims to reduce wait times, prisoner transportations, interruptions to other trials and travel for police and lawyers, while increasing efficiency and access to duty counsel and Crown resources.

The court’s website states the project was worked on by Legal Aid BC, defence counsel, the BC Prosecution Service, the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, and police.

If successful, the project could be expanded across RCMP detachments in the provincial court’s northern region.

READ MORE: COVID forces changes as B.C. provincial courts reopen for trials

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: cassidy.dankochik@quesnelobserver.com


@GimliJetsMan
cassidy.dankochik@quesnelobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Court

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

Just Posted

The District of Kitimat has announced to continue their free transit fares for all students in kindergarten to Grade 12. The pilot project will continue to run until August 2023, and will be reviewed in 2023 to see if it will be renewed. (Black Press photo)
Free student transit fare pilot project continues in Kitimat

The project was launched in September 2020 and allowed students to board buses for free

Kitimat Search and Rescue was tasked by RCMP on Friday, April 21 2021, requesting help in finding three lost hikers north of the Smith Street hiking trail. Hikers were found and brought back into town at 8 pm. (Kitimat Search and Rescue logo)
Kitimat SAR find three lost hikers

Kitimat SAR issued a warning to locals using the trails

Gates will open at 8:30 p.m. with the first film starting around 9:15 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. (AFFNO file photo)
AFFNO hosts french film in the Kitimat-Stikine and Northcoast Region

AFFNO had to create different approaches this year to set up events

(Clare Rayment photo)
Column: Whether weather correlates to your mood

Nearly nine per cent of people fall into a ‘rain haters’ category

Adrian Tryssenaar performing as Elvis at the Gyro Park Bandshell in Penticton, 2004. (Photo supplied)
In Our Valley: Adrian Tryssenaar

Kitimat’s king of rock

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Two-year-old Kashius Weme rides at the Steve Smith Memorial Bike Park in Nanaimo on Tuesday, May 11. The youngster’s precocious bike-riding ability is already attracting cycle sponsors. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
2-year-old B.C. bike rider already attracting cycle sponsors

Nanaimo’s Kashius Weme has a knack for extreme cycle sports

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation elected chief councillor Moses Martin, who was also Chantel Moore’s grandfather, speaks to media in Port Alberni on Aug. 16, 2020, during a visit from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh following the police shooting of Chantel Moore. (Elena Rardon photo)
Mother of 2 shot by police in critical condition, says B.C. First Nation chief

Community ‘devastated’ by third member of 1,150-person Vancouver Island nation shot in less than a year

Most Read