New funding to tackle rising crime rate

New Brunswick is setting aside more funding to address a significant rise in crime, officials announced Thursday.

The province says it’s increasing the justice department’s operating budget by $52.4 million for a grand total of $366.7 million, an increase of nearly 17 per cent compared to last year’s budget.

Officials say the extra funds are “strategic investments to address the crime rate.”

“The crime rate has been going in the wrong direction for years,” said Kris Austin, New Brunswick’s minister of public safety, in a news release. “By investing in police officers, Crown attorneys and corrections resources we can turn this trend around.”

Officials say they plan to use the extra funding to cover the cost of hiring more police officers and to create new rehabilitation programs for inmates serving time in New Brunswick jails.

The new funding also breaks down into the following areas:

  • $3 million for the corrections branch to reflect increased costs due to an increased crime rate
  • $6.1 million for inspections and enforcement, representing the increased cost of department peace officers who support police in community safety
  • $535,000 for family Crown services, reflecting the need for additional staff to manage the child protection caseload
  • $2.1 million for sheriff services to cover pressures in the justice system resulting from increased crime
  • $2.1 million in the grant for legal aid
  • $5.6 million in the budget for public prosecution services for a 49 per cent increase in the number of Crown prosecutors, and more support staff

Justice Minister Ted Flemming said he and Austin feel proud of the department’s budget, adding that reducing crime requires major investments. in a number of areas

“That is what we are doing,” he said.