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City looking to lend a hand in crown prosecutor’s office

The crown prosecutor’s office here in Grande Prairie is one of the busiest per case load in Alberta. The province has recently committed to adding a new prosecutor to the staff here, however the city is concerned that it may not be enough.

Chief Crown Prosecutor Steven Hinkley says due to the workload there is a certain amount of triage that happens in his office in order to make sure the most serious cases are being dealt with first.

“If I’m given a choice between prosecuting somebody for jaywalking and putting resources into murder, I will put the resources into the murder because that is in the public interest.”

Mayor Bill Given says council is interested to know if that additional position will be enough to help ease the workload of the five crown prosecutors that are already working here in the city.

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“[My question is] If it doesn’t, is there a possibility for the city of Grande Prairie to fund that crown prosecutor position so that we can ensure that with our investment in RCMP, that when they move through that system, that all of those cases where charges are laid are being prosecuted appropriately?”

According to Hinkley, Alberta has a higher workload per prosecutor than the national average, and says here in Grande Prairie that workload is even higher than the province’s average.

Hinkley says the more resources committed to community policing, the more cases his staff take onto their plates.

“Over the next number of years, just the city will add a dozen officers. They will of, course go out and fight crime and they will bring all of that to me.”

Hinkley maintains that his office has a good working relationship with the RCMP.

“Prosecution service and the RCMP work parallel and independently. We do consult, I give the RCMP advise on criminal matters where they request it on files, but ultimately we work independently. In order to do that successfully you have to have clear communication, which we do have. It’s part of the reason we are able to successfully manage the workload we have.”

Mayor Given has asked the city’s administration team to look into the feasibility and cost of funding additional resources for the office, which also serves court houses in Valleyview and Fox Creek.

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