VANCOUVER'S police and B.C.'s court system have taken some tough criticism in the aftermath of the rioting in Britain. While several rowdy Britons are already heading for prison, not a single wayward Canuck has even been charged yet, even though dozens of them actually turned themselves in.
The public is hungry for swift justice, but this in itself is another problem.
Even as the British are cleaning up, many have been shocked by the severity of sentences handed down to young people who did little more than start Facebook pages. Justice, like revenge, is best served cold. It would smack of a lynch mob and echo the original Vancouver mob and the online one that followed it if we were to rush folks to jail while our blood is still boiling. With a little time to consider things, we can remember that many of these people are merely shoplifters.
They broke the law and they must be punished - according to accepted standards. But the police and the province are grappling with an unprecedented task - literally thousands of crimes committed in the full view of hundreds upon hundreds of cameras. The sheer volume of evidence to sift through is staggering, and that may help defence lawyers as much as the Crown if cases are not assembled in the customary methodical way. This takes time.
In some ways, perhaps Vancouver's method is the crueller one. How many people are going about their daily business, wondering if today is the day they are led out of their home or office or classroom in handcuffs?