Allow gang members into witness program as part of modernization: RCMP

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - The RCMP says youth gang members — not just mobsters, bikers and other traditional protectees — should be allowed into the federal witness protection program as part of a sweeping modernization.

The Mounties are also embracing intensive psychological examination of potential protectees, a national support centre for the secretive program, and an external advisory board to serve as a watchdog.

The changes are spelled out in a detailed RCMP blueprint for reforming witness protection with assistance from the federal Public Safety Department and the provinces.

Although the paper was completed in May 2010, it was released only now to The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

RCMP spokeswoman Laurence Trottier — while providing few details — confirmed that at least some changes have already been introduced, adding that the program continues to evolve.

The program, administered by the Mounties, provides measures ranging from short-term protection to permanent relocation and identity changes.