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Looters from the Bay run past a burning car set off by rioters in Vancouver, June 15, 2011. (JOHN LEHMANN/The Globe and Mail)
Looters from the Bay run past a burning car set off by rioters in Vancouver, June 15, 2011. (JOHN LEHMANN/The Globe and Mail)

Globe Editorial

Vancouver police math: 40-plus confessions, two charged Add to ...

In London, the urgency is obvious. In Vancouver, the excuses keep coming.

More than 40 people came forward in Vancouver to confess to taking part in the riots after the last game of the Stanley Cup finals two months ago. What more has to happen for these people to be charged? Are the police and Crown so tied in knots of complexity that when someone turns up at their door and begs to be recognized as a miscreant, they can't oblige? Perhaps the city could just give them a key to the cells for a few days, ask them to close the door on their way out.

One of the excuses from the Vancouver police department is that people are confessing to small crimes though the police have evidence they committed large ones. So if police have that evidence, why not charge?

Maybe there's a hockey metaphor here: Vancouver is trying to score the perfect goal. It wants perfect justice. It wants everybody who did anything held responsible for the entirety of what they did.

Chief Constable Jim Chu: “The [investigative]team has identified 259 separate criminal events so far, which is an increase of 26 per cent since last month. Please keep in mind that each of these events could have as many as 300 individuals involved.” Why not take a few shots? Maybe something will go in.

Another galling excuse: London had 16,000 police on the streets; Vancouver didn't. Funny, two months ago, Mr. Chu refused to say how many police he had on the streets. Now he seems to be declaring that he didn't have enough for anyone to be charged within two months. (One suspects that, even with 16,000 officers, no one would be charged yet in Vancouver.) The British courts are already handing out tough custodial sentences, including four years in jail for two men, in their early 20s, for posting a Facebook invitation to a riot that never happened. More than 1,000 people have been charged. “People for a while thought that this was a crime without consequence,” said Communities Secretary Eric Pickles. In Vancouver the total is either zero or two people charged, depending on whether you think that two alleged stabbings were riot-related. So far, it seems like a riot without consequence.

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