Eliminating Violence in Canadian Homes and Streets
It is time for Canada to be a beacon for sound and compassionate policies to reduce its rates of violence, violence against women, and homicide below the average of other advanced nations. It is time for Canada to reduce those rates for Indigenous peoples to the rates for non-indigenous.
This is more politically possible than we think. We have the knowledge. We have government commitments. We just need to help governments to act intentionally now to meet their targets by 2030. This requires investment now in applying that knowledge to ¨upstream¨ prevention that is people-centred and evidence based. We need them to change from continuing to add more to the many billions they have added to reacting rather than solving problems. Instead they need to shape our world by making up for the lag in investment in prevention with more modest but still billions to stop the problems in the first place.
Actions now must include a national crime prevention strategy, a national office for crime prevention, and sustained investment in upstream prevention where it is most needed.
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Five Key Developments in Knowledge and Experience in Last 20 years for Safer Cities
Knowledge and experience accumulated in the last 20 years provide hope for cities to become much safer, as we have learnt:
1. Violence in cities continues to cause significant harm to people and loss of sustainable development and so demands urgent smarter investment in effective solutions:
a. epidemic levels of injuries and loss of life continue for disadvantaged young men from street violence, particularly in Latin America,
b. sexual and intimate partner violence inflicts pain and loss of quality of life on women and children, and
c. terrorism threatens peace;
2. Knowledge of pre-crime prevention solutions, that have reduced violence significantly better than current policies, are now accessible through prestigious national and international sources;
3. Cities that have transformed their strategies to invest in effective pre-crime prevention solutions have achieved large reductions in violence, including in some high violence cities in Latin America;
4. Governments and inter-governmental agencies have not yet invested significantly in the proven and people positive strategies that reduce violence in cities, despite their affordability and potential popularity;
5. Governments and inter-governmental agencies need to foster this transformative action, particularly in cities, to achieve their commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals, including the violence reduction targets in SDG´s 11, 3, 5 and 16 using the effective implementation actions agreed in SDG 17.
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Will the next Canadian government get smarter about making a safe Canada safer?
In Canada, crimes of violence and against property still cause the equivalent of $83 billion in harm to victims – equivalent to 5% of GDP. We have the evidence based knowledge to cut that harm by 50% within 5-10 years by tackling the social causes of violence and providing real support and rights to crime victims.
This shift to victim centred, compassionate and evidence based policy requires the next Canadian government to invest in the following three actions costing $1.5 billion a year which is less than 1/10 of 1% of GDP. Reducing the number of victims significantly will also reduce the demand for police and jails and so enable reduction over time in taxes spent on reaction of $5 billion.
These actions will make Canada a beacon for smarter and compassionate crime control and achieve domestically the violence reduction targets of the UN´s sustainable development goals.
Will your government:
1. establish a national crime reduction and victim assistance board and invest $500 million a year to work with provinces and cities to reduce significantly interpersonal violence and homicide in Canada by promoting the use of proven prevention solutions?
2. invest $500 million to reduce violence against women and children, implement a national action plan on violence against women, and launch an annual Statistics Canada survey on intimate partner and sexual violence to measure the success of policies?
3. invest $500 million to work with the Provinces to develop and implement national programs that meet international standards for assistance, reparation and rights for victims of crime and commit to annual Statistics Canada victimization surveys to measure the gap between the needs and services for victims of crime?
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Policing in the 21st Century and Smarter Crime Control: What shifts policy to cost effective public safety?
Compared to 50 years ago, health policy has led to much longer life expectancy. Technology has led to a much easier life. But criminal justice policy has only recently been associated with rates of street crime close to those in the 1960´s when the USA had 3 Presidential Commissions on violence. We are also now more aware that intimate partner and sexual violence is much more rampant than debated 50 years ago.
Recent innovations in Canada and evidence based initiatives in the USA suggest that a shift in policy could reduce interpersonal violent crime by 50% or more combined with huge savings in tax expenditures. So what do we know about how to make this shift? To what extent will these innovations and initiatives lead to application of the evidence and so less interpersonal violent crime and greater public safety at less cost? Will they achieve the potential for a 50% reduction in street crime and intimate partner and sexual violence? Will they reduce taxes on crime and justice by $6 billion in Canada and $75 billion in the USA?
The CCA Panel on the Future of Policing Canada in the 21st century emphasized that policing is just one player in reducing interpersonal violence and providing public safety. The book on Smarter Crime Control reviewed the accumulated evidence on cost effective public safety to show that (i) specific policing strategies that are pro-active and in partnerships to be effective and (ii) that many pre-crime prevention investments are proven to be more cost effective in preventing much of violent crime.
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Time to shift from ¨punishment only¨ agenda to ¨victim centred and prevention¨ agenda
President Obama affirmed that $80 billion would be better used not for mass incarceration but for pre-school, teachers and university entrance. This is only part of the conclusions from the data and best practices brought together in Smarter Crime Control. Importantly the US federal government could provide funding to States to enable them to invest in effective violence prevention and so reduce their use of mass incarceration. Getting Smarter Crime Control in the US is important but the knowledge and the logic apply to Canada, China, Latin America and across the world.
Irvin Waller calls for genuine action to stop victimization and provide rights for victims. When the World Society of Victimology made him an ¨Honorary Member¨ this July for his significant accomplishments in the victimological field, he called on the next generations of victimologists to build on those accomplishments by shifting governments from their outdated punishment only agenda to a genuine victim centred and prevention agenda.
This is a unique moment in human history. We now have the knowledge endorsed by organizations such as WHO and UN-Habitat to cut violent victimization by 50%. We have the models of best practices to show that it is possible to do it. We have US politicians realising that extraordinary over use of incarceration has not worked. Put it all together … if governments invested just 1/10th of one per cent of world GDP in making the shift to effective violence prevention and rights for victims, they would cut in half the 5% of world GDP lost to violence.
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