Crime Stoppers returns to the Yukon

After a five-year absence, Yukon once again has a Crime Stoppers program across the territory.

After a five-year absence, Yukon once again has a Crime Stoppers program across the territory.

Crime Stoppers is run by a volunteer board — not the police or the government — and allows Yukoners to leave anonymous tips about criminal activities. If a tip leads to an arrest, the tipster could collect a cash reward.

The new anonymous tip line for the territory is 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). It was officially launched Thursday. Tips can also be left online at crimestoppersyukon.ca. The site was not online Friday morning.

“The Crime Stoppers program recognizes that it’s the information that is critical,” said RCMP superintendent Brian Jones.

“And for those people who are not in a position to come forward to provide their names to police, it’s the information that is most important to us.”

Calls to the tip line are routed to a call centre in Ontario. Before tips are forwarded to the RCMP, information about the person providing the tip is replaced with a number.

“We will know, at the board level, who that number is,” explained Mike Pemberton, president of the Community Crime Stoppers Association.

If the police inform Crime Stoppers that a tip has led to an arrest the board will be able to hand out reward money. The maximum reward for a tip is $2,000 and will depend on the severity of the crime.

“I also want you to understand that the stats show that not all tips are people looking for money. They’re not,” Pemberton said.

“A lot of tips are coming in because the communities want to get involved but they do not want to have direct contact with the RCMP.”

Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee encouraged all Yukoners to use the program.

“Tips and information remain anonymous, helping to reduce fears of adverse consequences and retributions,” she said. “Often that’s of particular concern here and across the territory in small communities.”

An anonymous tip alone is not enough for a judge to grant police a warrant to search a home, for example, Jones said.

“But it’s a place to start from, it’s more than we had before. So we use that to look in a new direction, give us a hint where we might have overlooked something and take all that in.”

The Kwanlin Dun First Nation has been running a similar anonymous tip line over the last year.

Acting justice director Gina Nagano said that line will be continuing.

“As people of this traditional territory, we all have a responsibility to lean in, to engage, to participate,” she said.

Crime Stoppers programs are run across Canada. Yukon’s program ended in 2011.

To stay viable the board needs to stay active, Pemberton said.

“The board is all volunteers, and it’s got to live there, it’s got to live with the individuals that sit on the board to maintain a strategy for fundraising, for knocking on doors to collect money.”

Crime Stoppers’ rules don’t allow it to use government money to pay out rewards. It depends on donations to cover those costs.

“I can’t push hard enough on how important the funding is to the life of this program. We need to get behind this program,” Pemberton said. “Businesses need to understand that without their support the program will go to the wayside.”

Pemberton said he didn’t know exactly how much money the program needs to stay viable.

“The need for funding is going to equal the amount of crimes solved through the organization.”

The board is able to get government grants to cover costs outside of reward money. That might include the cost of the phone lines or advertising.

Earlier this year the Yukon government provided $21,000 in start-up funding for the program.

Many government officials were on hand Thursday to show their support, including Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis.

“I’ve seen when we work together we can really move mountains and I’m hoping this is one of the mountains we can kind of plough down,” he said.

To make a donation to Crime Stoppers call 334-4466 or email info@crimestoppersyukon.com.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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