06/19/2012 07:17 EDT | Updated 08/19/2012 05:12 EDT

B.C. Pledges $66M To Fight Gang Violence

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The B.C. government is spending $66 million to help fight gang violence in the province, Justice Minister Shirley Bond announced Tuesday.

"We have a message for those people who choose to behave in gang activity and violent behaviour in this province," Bond said.

"We're going to make sure that the teams that we've put in place that have seen unprecedented success in this province in terms of removing guns from the streets and taking gangsters off the streets is going to continue in this province."

Bond said the money would be used to continue funding 168 anti-gang police officers with the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit.

"This money will be directly used to support teams like our Uniform Gang Task Force ... to work really in combating the front- line police initiatives in regards to gang violence and crime associated to joining gangs," said Chief Officer Dan Malo, head of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit.

But NDP critic Leonard Krog doubts it will be enough.

"They're not new measures. It's just a continuation of an existing program, but it doesn't address the long-term strategy that is required to fight organized crime in British Columbia," Krog said.

"It seems to me we're really just treading water with this announcement. It's nothing more than that. It's another photo-op for the premier."

Krog said the government needs a strategy to combat organized crime around the province, not just in the Lower Mainland.

Bond made several other announcements Tuesday, which she called the second pillar of Liberal government's "families first" agenda:

- A Family Law Act will come into effect on March 18, 2013, aimed at helping to reduce pressures on the courts.

- Thirty-five new child protection program mediators have been added to improve the availability of mediation services for vulnerable families in remote, rural and Aboriginal communities.

- B.C.'s Justice Access Centres will be expanded to provide additional access to front-end justice information and services.