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Justice, social services failed Frank Paul: report

A month after the interim report on the inquiry into the death of Frank Paul was submitted to him, Attorney General Wally Oppal tabled it in the legislature today.

The 445-page report, “Alone and Cold”, examines Paul's death from hypothermia in December, 1998 in a Vancouver alley after being refused entry to a Vancouver jail cell often used for shelter. While two police officers acknowledged they made “fundamental mistakes of judgment” turning Paul away, the report looks at how broader institutions failed Paul.

“The evidence requires me to conclude that despite the service of many fine and diligent professionals, our systems of justice and social service ultimately failed Frank Paul,” wrote report author and inquiry commissioner William Davies.

His recommendations include:

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

* Vancouver, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, the provincial Housing and Social Development ministry and aboriginal organizagtions “jointly develop a comprehensive response to the needs of the homeless chronic alcoholics within the city of Vancouver”;

* That response should include a sobering centre, programs for responding to people who are “incapacitated in a public place” and detoxification programs, all run by civilians;

* Providing more housing “designed for the specific needs of chronic alcoholics”;

* B.C. should develop a way for civilians to investigate police-related deaths in city's with their own police departments. The new body would be accountable to the Attorney General and under the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman.

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