Officers from Surrey Pretrial Services Centre rallied outside of the centre on Friday (March 8) about the “unmanageable levels” of inmate-to-officer ratios at B.C. prisons. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

VIDEO: Officers rally as violence in B.C. jails hit all-time high

Inmate-to-officer ratio is ‘now as high as 72:1’: BCGEU

An officer with the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union says violence in jails is at an “all-time high” over the past five years and the inmate-to-officer ratios are at “unmanageable levels.”

Correctional officers were rallying outside of Surrey Pretrial Centre Friday morning (March 8) to bring attention to the rapidly increasing incidents of violence against correctional officers. Between 30 to 40 officers turned out for the rally.

Dean Purdy, B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU) vice-president for corrections and sheriff services, said prison violence has increased over the last five years at all seven of the province’s maximum-security jails, but the Surrey Pretrial Services Centre has probably had the most violence out of any of the jails.”

In a news release from the BCGEU, it says that prior to 2001, the inmate-to-officer ration in B.C.’s correctional facilities was capped at 20:1. The ratio, the release says, “is now as high as 72:1,” adding that recent statistics from Corrections BC “show that assaults on officers and inmate-on-inmate violence continues to rise.”

The 72:1 ration, Purdy said, is at “unmanageable levels.”

Purdy said the BCGEU has met with the NDP government and Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth about needing two correctional officers in every living unit.

“We’ve given (Farnworth) some ideas on what needs to be done to try and get out in front of the violence,” Purdy said. “We’re hopeful – we’re going to give it some time – but we’re really at wits end right now. We need some changes and we know that the real issues is the officer-to-inmate ratios.”

Purdy said that the officers know that 95 per cent of the violence “is typically done by three to five per cent of the inmates.”

“We’re saying those 95 per cent (who aren’t violent), treat them differently from the three to five per cent,” he said.

Purdy said there also needs to be more support for correctional officers who have to use force, adding that a lot of this push for better ratios started when eight correctional officers were fired from Fraser Regional Correctional Centre in Maple Ridge.

RELATED: Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

A recent audit of B.C.’s prison system finds that more inmates sharing living units than the B.C. Corrections set as its target of 32 per cent four years ago. Surrey Pretrial Centre was fourth highest at 49 per cent.

RELATED: B.C. officers to protest violence against prison guards

RELATED: ‘Double-bunking’ still a problem for B.C. provincial jails

– With a file from Tom Fletcher



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Lauren on Twitter

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

Just Posted

Playgrounds back in the swing of things on the West Shore

Langford, View Royal, Colwood reopen parks, playgrounds

Sooke fitness facilities reopen to the public

Extra measures set in place to ensure user safety

Beefs & Bouquets, June 4

To submit a beef or a bouquet, email publisher@goldstreamgazette.com

Vancouver Island’s current COVID-19 case count officially hits zero

Of the 130 recorded Island Health cases, five people have died, 125 recovered

Parkland grads mark end to high school in virtual ceremony

North Saanich grads pre-tape graduation ceremony days before school officially reopened

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

POLL: Are you sending your children back to school this month?

Classrooms looked decidedly different when students headed back to school for the… Continue reading

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Alert Bay resident carves tribute to his community kicking COVID-19’s butt

‘Our little village crushed the curve with love and commitment’

End of an Era: Tofino hair studio closes shop

“We were getting excited to start ramping up and then all of sudden we had to close our doors.”

Most Read