The province is launching a pilot project in Northern B.C. courts this week, moving bail hearings to a virtual format only. On April 19, the Northern Bail Pilot Project will test a centralized bail hearing model by installing MS Teams equipment in seven RCMP detachments and the Prince George Regional Correctional Centre.
The project was created in consultation with Legal Aid BC, BC Prosecution Service, Public Prosecution Service of Canada, defence counsel and police.
Accused persons will appear by video conference or audio conference from detachments in these locations:
• Burns Lake
• Dawson Creek
• Fort Nelson
• New Hazelton
• Prince George
From other police detachments they will appear by telephone. Crown and duty counsel will appear by Teams video conference or audio conference wherever they are located.
The project aims to reduce time spent in-custody awaiting a bail hearing, overnight remands in police cells, transports of prisoners by sheriffs to courthouses and correctional facilities, and reduce or eliminate interruptions to previously scheduled trials due to unscheduled bail hearings for newly arrests.
Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative. Email Tom at email@example.com