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A public alert wasn't made when a convicted sex offender was released in B.C. Who made that call?


Who was responsible for the decision not to warn the public when a convicted sex offender was released into Kelowna, B.C., where he allegedly went on to victimize another child?

In a statement, the Kelowna RCMP confirmed it "sought" a Public Interest Disclosure about Taylor Dueck prior to his release into the community but that "the threshold was not met in this case based on the totality of the circumstances."

But despite repeated inquiries from CTV News, a spokesperson has not answered the question of which agency or institution Mounties "sought" this from, and who ultimately made the decision not to issue a warning.

"We are not told who the person/team is that ultimately makes that decision as there is most likely a team of people. They are not within the Kelowna RCMP detachment," the spokesperson said in an email.

Kelowna RCMP also declined to explain what the process for seeking a PID is and which agencies are involved in more general terms: "We are unable to provide you with specific details of the process of requesting a PID in this file or any others. There are multiple factors in the decision-making process."

The spokesperson told CTV News to contact BC Corrections but would not say how, or if, that provincial agency was involved in the decision-making process around making a PID in this case.

Dueck was arrested and charged with sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching, and breach of probation after an alleged incident earlier this month involving an 11-year-old girl in the bathroom of a Kelowna equestrian facility.

Outrage over how a convicted sex offender who had been the subject of warnings in the past, including one from the Mission RCMP, was released with no such notification quickly mounted.

In the B.C. legislature, the Opposition laid the blame at the feet of the premier and the NDP government,

"This government neglected to notify the public that there was a dangerous pedophile like this in their presence,” BC United Leader Kevin Falcon said earlier this week.

Falcon did not explain what the provincial government, specifically, could or should have done in this case to ensure the public was informed.

B.C.'s Public Safety Ministry, in a statement, clarified that the province has no jurisdiction over when or if the RCMP issues a PID.

"The RCMP has its own public interest disclosure process, which is independent of BC Corrections or any other agency," a spokesperson wrote in an email.

The legislation that governs the RCMP's public sharing of information about the "release of dangerous offenders into communities across Canada" is the federal Privacy Act, according to a report that the Mounties submit to Parliament annually.

Section 8(2)(m), specifically, allows for the release of information where "the public interest in disclosure clearly outweighs any invasion of privacy that could result from the disclosure."

The decision of whether to disclose or not, according to the law, is based on "the opinion of the head of the institution."

The RCMP Commissioner is designated as the head of the institution with "full authority" under the Privacy Act. However, the commanding officers of provincial divisions are authorized to act as the head of the institution when it comes to making a decision under section 8(2)(m).

Staff Sgt. Kris Clark, spokesperson for the B.C. RCMP, also confirmed to CTV news that a PID was "sought" before Dueck's release but that the "threshold was not met."

He also explained some of what the decision-making process generally entails, saying it is a "rigorous test," and that a PID is an "extraordinary" measure.

"To put it clearly, we must first answer several questions, such as: 'Can the proposed disclosure be made some other way?' and 'Is another agency responsible for the disclosure?' and 'Are there factors that make the individual more or less of a risk to the public?'” he wrote in an email.

Clark also said that even if a PID was previously issued for a particular offender, the test has to be applied every time someone is released and based on their current circumstances.

"While we cannot speak for other agencies, the BC RCMP has been very proactive with issuing a PID when we become aware of a person’s release into one of our communities," Clark said.

At an unrelated news conference Friday, Clark further explained that, in terms of the RCMP's PID requests, if it's determined the threshold is met by "an investigative team and subject-matter experts … then the authority rests with the commissioner, which is delegated to the commanding officer."

"So essentially the authority to issue a PID would rest with the CO of the division," Clark said, without confirming whether that was the case in the incident involving Dueck.

'Clearly a failure'

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth reiterated during Friday's news conference that he's ordered "a full investigation into all the federal and provincial agencies, as well as officials that were involved in what took place."

Farnworth explained the investigation would be twofold: first to deal specifically with the recent incident in Kelowna and secondly to look at the broader system and how decisions are made.

"Many of the policies and procedures have been in place for a very long time, decades, and so that we can identify what changes that need to take place because, quite frankly, there was clearly a failure," Farnworth said. "People want answers and I intend to make sure they get them."

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Ben Nesbit Top Stories

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