'Putting fear into people': B.C. city council wants to track criminals with GPS implant

A B.C. community is taking a page out of dystopian science fiction novels with a new approach to battling crime: track criminals using microchips.

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Williams Lake city council voted unanimously on Tuesday on a proposal to inject high-risk offenders with a GPS tracking device.

"Whether they’re walking downtown, whether they’re having a bath, whether they’re having dinner, we don’t care. We want to know where they are and what they’re doing," Williams Lake Coun. Scott Nelson, who introduced the motion, told CTV Vancouver.

Williams Lake has ranked among the top municipalities on Statistics Canada's Crime Severity Index rankings in recent years.

In the most recent ranking, the city was ranked top of the index for violent crime severity for cities with a population greater than 10,000.

The proposal came after Williams Lake RCMP released a video on Monday showing a man walking up to a teen at a skate park, pulling a gun out and taking his bike.

"Prolific offenders are in every community across British Columbia, and the biggest problem we’ve got in Williams Lake is that they’re putting fear into people," Nelson said.

The proposal has civil liberties advocates worried but they don't expect the proposal to go very far.

"It’s not constitutional," said Micheal Vonn, the policy director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. "It would be challenged very, very quickly, I can assure you.

"Certainly the notion of injecting it into anybody's body is, as I say, not anything that a Canadian court is going to take kindly to."

However, Vonn says the reasoning behind the plan should generate discussion.

She says the fact councillors' are so concerned by crime they're proposing a tracking system shows the community has reached the peak of its frustration and anger.

Despite Nelson and the rest of the Williams Lake council's hopes, the proposed technology doesn't appear to exist.

Radio frequency implants, a type of microchips, have been implanted in pets but they only contain data, not the ability to provide a tracking ability.

Biohackers have recently been able to install microchips in humans, roughly the size of two grains of rice, but they only contain personal identification details.

The B.C. government says it's unaware of the technology desperately wanted by city officials.

"I am not familiar with the particular technology that is being referred to," Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Morris told CTV News, adding that the province is working on a community safety pilot project in the area.

B.C. has recently approved tracking criminals with the use of cumbersome electronic monitoring bracelets and even then, they're only allowed for rare cases.

The city is forwarding its motion to the Union of B.C. Municipalities and Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty.

With a report from CTV Vancouver


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