Currently there are few options for dealing with police-apprehended individuals who are intoxicated and aggressive or troubled.
The Victoria Sobering and Assessment Centre is a 20-bed facility operated by Victoria Withdrawal Management Services.
It provides a place for intoxicated individuals to stay for less than 24 hours, but it does not accept clients who are violent. The service is accessed through police or hospital referral, or by client walk-in.
BC Housing is set to begin construction of a sobering centre on city-owned land in Surrey, according to media reports.
The $22 million facility will be located near Surrey Memorial Hospital. Minister of Health Services Kevin Falcon announced the centre’s upcoming construction in mid-September.
The announcement came just as the coroner’s inquest into the death of Scott Alexander Walker wrapped up on Sept. 10.
Walker, 43, died on Feb. 7, 2008 of liver failure due to chronic alcoholism at Surrey Memorial. He had become medically distressed while in RCMP custody three days earlier.
The inquest report recommended that a medical practitioner be assigned to Surrey RCMP cells and that a sobering centre be built with a section for police-apprehended individuals who are intoxicated. The facility was initially proposed in 2008.
Similarly, an October coroner’s inquest into the death of Christine Bernadette Miller, 39, has recommended that the Fraser Health Authority and the city of Abbotsford develop a sobering centre as an alternative to jail.
Miller became medically distressed in police custody on August 7, 2008. She died the following day of acute toxicity due to a mix of drugs and alcohol in her system. Her death was ruled accidental.