Riot marks increasing violence at Burnaby Youth Custody Centre

July 20, 2016

Last night’s six-hour long riot at the Burnaby Youth Custody Centre (BYCC) is the latest indication of escalating levels of violence at the facility. In recent months, officers at the facility have reported increasing levels of inmate-on-inmate violence and inmate-on-staff assaults.

The rise coincides with the closure of the Victoria Youth Custody Centre (VYCC) in 2014. The Burnaby centre now also holds young offenders from Vancouver Island.

“Correction officers predicted there would be increasing violence at the Burnaby centre with the closure of VYCC,” said Dean Purdy, BCGEU vice president Corrections and Sheriff Services. “More and more, we are working with young offenders who have mental health problems and gang affiliations."

“Cost-cutting means these young offenders are shuttled back and forth between Burnaby and Vancouver Island for court appearances. Too often they are locked up for extended periods of time instead of getting the support and services they need. This is bad for these young offenders, and bad for prison safety and public safety.”

The B.C. Liberal government’s decision to close VYCC was roundly condemned by the BCGEU, First Nations, the Representative for Children and Youth (RCY), legal experts, local mayors and police chiefs.

The BCGEU calls on the RCY to conduct an independent review of the conditions and circumstances that led to a riot like this occurring.

To address concerns about violence in B.C. youth custody, the provincial government should explore other options for the VYCC facility, including:

  • alternative capacity uses for the centre;
  • reaching out in the community to explore options and to seek support; and
  • exploring housing youth females at both VYCC & Prince George Youth Custody Centre.

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: Evan Stewart – 604-291-9611 ext. 405 or evan.stewart@bcgeu.ca