EDITORIAL: Public has a say in court

The Ministry of Public Safety has announced communities will now be allowed to submit impact statements

It’s not always just individuals who are affected by a crimes sometimes the community as a whole also suffers consequences.

These can be financial in nature, or a blow dealt to the collective psyche. Up until now, these impacts have only nebulously been considered in court cases. British Columbia communities will soon be changing that.

The Ministry of Public Safety has announced communities will now be allowed to submit impact statements, much like victims can now make statements to the court before sentencing.

Community impact statements can be made by a local organization, civic government, religious organizations or First Nations community. It’s a move of which we approve.

We think these can be particularly effective in cases involving things like vandalism, arson, fraud and embezzlement. One can see them even coming into play in certain cases of assault, including sexual assault or drug dealing. While they are considered less serious (and rightly so), all too often in cases of vandalism against public buildings or businesses, the perpetrators seem to treat it like a victimless crime.

Yet even something as relatively minor as repeated tagging can have serious financial impacts on a community, from the cost of clean up to the impact it has on things like tourism.

The larger community is also a victim, and now they have a say.

—Black Press