Province Takes New Step to Fight Crime

first_imgThe province is making sure crime does not pay. Justice Minister Ross Landry has created a unit that will take possession of property acquired through, or used in, unlawful activities. “This initiative sends a strong message, that unlawful activity doesn’t pay,” said Mr. Landry. “This is an excellent opportunity for government and law enforcement agencies to fight crime together in our communities.” The Civil Forfeiture Unit has a manager and a lawyer. The unit receives cases referred from law enforcement agencies where there is evidence of wrong doing but criminal charges are not laid, such as bootlegging or selling stolen property. “The Civil Forfeiture Act is another tool to address illegitimate activity in our community,” said Chief Frank Beazley of Halifax Regional Police. “This act will take the profit out of crime, ensure people are not benefitting from criminal activity and enhance community safety.” The unit is based in Halifax, but will serve all of Nova Scotia. Revenues from the program will fund the Civil Forfeiture Unit and provide financial support for crime prevention and victim services programs. “Removing proceeds of crime and assets from criminals sends a clear message to those who are trying to live off of criminal activity,” said RCMP Supt. Brian Brennan. “The RCMP embraces this new legislation and looks forward to establishing strong relationships with the provincial Civil Forfeiture Unit to make an impact on criminal activity, quickly and effectively.” Nova Scotia will soon be able to share information with British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick, which have similar civil forfeiture legislation. The provinces are set to enter into a memorandum of understanding that will allow them to share case-related information to strengthen the effectiveness of their civil forfeiture units. “This program is meant to deter criminals from engaging in illegal activity,” said Mr. Landry. “Victims of these crimes can rest assured, knowing that people are not benefitting from the crime.” In 2009, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that government can freeze assets and attempt to take the profit out of unlawful activity to compensate victims and fund other programs. In Nova Scotia, all property forfeited will be sold through standard government procedures by the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. In cases where charges are laid, and property is not seized by an enforcement agency or forfeited by the criminal court, the Civil Forfeiture Unit will have the ability to seize the property and seek forfeiture in Civil Court. Forfeiture means transferring the property from the owner to the Crown. It does not result in the conviction of a person. The unit will begin reviewing cases immediately. The Civil Forfeiture Act and Assets Management and Disposition Act, the legislation that makes the unit possible, came into effect April 29.last_img read more