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Issues with Crown Stats on G20 Prosecutions

This weekend on Twitter I posted a link to a press release issued by the Ministry of the Attorney General (the Crown) containing statistics on current G20 prosecutions.  The press release can be viewed here.  The Crown cites the following statistics on the status of G20 prosecutions:

  • 320 individuals have appeared before the courts (four of these only have drug charges which are being prosecuted by the federal Crown).
  • 230 have had their matters completed.
  • 12  have pleaded guilty.
  • 10 entered peace bonds.
  • 162 had their matters stayed or withdrawn.
  • 9 were listed in error.
  • 81 have had their matters adjourned and are scheduled to appear again before March 8, 2011.
  • 5 have warrants outstanding for their arrest.

While I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of the information provided, I do question the manner in which it is being reported.  Specifically I take issue of the following:

  1. The Crown stated in the press release that they have “implemented a special protocol to make updates on G20 prosecutions available to the public on the ministry’s website every six months, beginning in November 2010”.  If the purpose of this protocol is transparency then the six-month timeline is wholly unacceptable.  Cases are moving through the system at a much quicker pace.  There are trial dates set for the Winter and Spring.  I fail to see any reason why the Crown cannot publish a similar update every four weeks.
  2. The claim that 320 individuals have appeared before the courts is accurate from the perspective that it provides a statistic for those who were released on bail or a promise to appear and ordered to appear in court.  The number does not reflect the amount of people who were detained at the temporary jail facility and never charged with anything.
  3. The Crown’s claim that 162 individuals had their matters stayed or withdrawn is accurate from the perspective of this being the final resolution of these matters but does not reflect the fact that many were told to complete some form of task before this result occurred – the Crown did not simple stand-up and stay or withdraw each of these matters (in fairness they did for some) in open court at the first appearance date, something more was required.  Some had to make a small charitable donation, perform some community service hours, etc.  To me this falls a lot closer to a diversion or direct accountability program than it does an outright stay or withdrawal. This statistic really needs to better reflect how these matters were dealt with.

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