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Mandatory gunshot and stab wound reporting in effect soon

Kootenay Lake Hospital — TND file photo.

Legislation requiring B.C.’s health-care facilities to report gunshot and stab wounds to police comes into effect Feb. 1, 2011.

“Often in cases of gunshots and stab wounds, a timely reaction by police is critical to preventing further violence, injury or death,” said Solicitor General Rich Coleman. “Setting out the rules for reporting these incidents means that police will get the information they need to expedite their response.”

The Gunshot and Stab Wound Disclosure Act is part of the Province’s seven-point plan to combat gang and gun violence announced in February 2009. This legislation is the first of its kind in British Columbia.

The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics reports that for the past 30 years, the two primary methods used to commit homicide are shooting and stabbing. In 2009, this trend continued, as there were 210 victims (36 per cent) killed by stabbing and 179 victims killed by a firearm (30 per cent) in Canada.

Under the new Gunshot and Stab Wound Disclosure Act:

• All gunshot wounds must be reported to police regardless of origin. Health professionals will not have to make any determination on criminality.

• Stab wounds will be reported at the discretion of the health-care facility so that they are not required to report accidental or self-inflicted wounds.

• Health facilities must verbally report to police as soon as possible without comprising an individual’s treatment. Required information includes the patient’s name, if known, and the name and location of the health-care facility where the patient is treated.

• Health facilities that are required to report include hospitals, doctor’s offices and walk-in clinics. 

Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta mandate reporting of both gunshot and stab wounds. Ontario, Nova Scotia and Quebec require gunshot wounds to be reported.