10/09/2013 03:24 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

RCMP returns 51 fugitives wanted in other jurisdictions on outstanding warrants

VANCOUVER - Fifty-one people have been returned from British Columbia to face charges in other jurisdictions across Canada since the RCMP launched a program for fugitives wanted on outstanding warrants.

The Mounties Fugitive Return Program began two years ago by targeting alleged criminals charged with a range of offences such as sexual assault, drug trafficking and assaulting a peace officer.

Justice Minister Suzanne Anton says returning fugitives is one way to support crime prevention through proceeds recovered from civil forfeiture.

Insp. Mike Cumberworth says the program is an important part of holding alleged offenders accountable for their actions and sending the message that they can't simply skip town to avoid being arrested.

Since August, four fugitives have been returned to Whitehorse, Ontario and Alberta.

The Vancouver Police Department's Conair program has transported 124 fugitives to other provinces since 2008.