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Every day from February 21st -28th, I am going to write about a different crime issue that has an impact in our community. We’re calling this initiative Crime Week.  I know that people in Brant are concerned about their safety and issues of justice and so am I.  This is an issue that I deal with every single day in my job as a social worker. Many people who walk into my office have suffered from the effects of having a crime committed against them myself included. We need a justice system that punishes those people who commit crimes, works to prevent them from becoming repeat offenders, and looks for solutions to stop crime from ever happening in the first place.

Today our focus will be on crime prevention.  

We need to support the successful community and not-for-profit organizations that provide crime prevention programs. Our own municipal police force supplies a series of beneficial crime prevention measures including seminars, workshops, and printed materials. I have worked with them during various awareness weeks in our community most recently during National Addictions Awareness Week.  They do good work on this issue.  The police force also plays an active role in working with our young people about the impact of crime in their schools and in their neighbourhoods. I fondly remember both Officer Rudy Jambrosic and Officer Dave Sinclair as the high school resource officers during my years at Assumption College School.

In order to keep these programs successful, we must ensure that police forces have the financial support necessary for these programs.  For a time I studied Criminology at the University of Ottawa and was always impressed at the results of community policing initiatives in our country and in other countries.  This is a model where officers become full members of the neighbourhoods they serve.  In much the same way our political campaign has taken on a community development model, police that use this strategy tend to have better results, get more accurate information from community members, and are safer.

This style of policing also helps to engage neighbourhoods in their own policing and safety making.  The more accessible police are, the more comfortable we feel and the more knowledgeable we are of local crime issues, scams etc.  This is all a very cost effective way to prevent crime.  Locally driven initiatives to prevent crime are cheaper than spending billions on new prisons for unreported crime.

In order for us to create a system that is not just tough but tough and effective, there are elements that we must strengthen. The least expensive crime fighting programs are those that prevent crime in the first place.  Prevention vs. detention is cost effective.  We need to strengthen our support for successful crime prevention programs if we are going to tackle crime seriously.  In my previous article I talked to the issue of anti-gang programs in our country, and how the Conservative government is prepared to remove the funding that has allowed them to succeed. We must pressure the government to continue its funding for anti-gang programming so that we can create a template for anti-gang programming here in Brant and also so that we can stop the spread of gang activity across our country.

But it is not just successful anti-gang programs that we need to safeguard.  Evidence-based prevention and rehabilitation programs are under attack under this Conservative government as are many agencies that provide services for victims.  We have seen the Conservative government undermine the power of evidence based tools like the census and enough is enough.

There is much work to be done in creating a justice system in our country that is both tough and effective.  Pandering to our fears and undermining evidence based tools will never be as effective as connecting our communities through awareness, training and good prevention programs.  We need government officials who will use evidence in the creation of government policy on crime issues and not blind ideology.

We are committed to that work in Brant and beyond.

I look forward to your comments.  If you have anything you would like to share in private please contact me directly at marc@brantndp.ca

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