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Red faces for red serge

Probation Services will get full information from RCMP after all

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services

Hay River (Aug 25/03) - A Mountie misinterpretation of policy is being blamed for a recent incident in Hay River Territorial Court.

During a case on Aug. 8, Chief Judge Robert Halifax ordered a pre-sentence report prepared by Probation Services.

However, a probation officer advised Halifax that the RCMP were no longer providing criminal record checks to Probation Services and victims' names were blacked out on prosecutors' information sheets.

That resulted in Halifax ordering the RCMP and Crown to hand over the information to Probation Services within 48 hours.

During the court hearing, Halifax was not impressed with the withholding of information from Probation Services.

"Aren't the RCMP part of the administration of justice, or are they off on their own somewhere?" Halifax commented.

Now, Sgt. Daryl Key, the media relations officer with RCMP's 'G' Division, says the whole thing was the result of a misinterpretation.

Key explains that, in the spring, officials from RCMP headquarters in Ottawa briefed NWT detachment commanders on changes to the Freedom of Information Act.

"Someone misunderstood the context of that," he says.

Key says Probation Services will still get full disclosure of information.

The court case involved Fort Smith's David Owen Bourke, who pleaded guilty to several counts of assault. Bourke will be back in court, Aug. 28, for sentencing.