Irvin Waller calls for governments to meet international standards of victim assistance and invest in preventing victimization.

18. Crime Reduction Board for Canada

It is proposed that the Canadian Parliament add a short amendment to Safe Streets and Communities Act (C-10) to create a permanent Crime Reduction Board for Canada.

The purpose of the Crime Reduction Board for Canada is to reduce crime and harm to victims of crime in Canada by promoting the comprehensive implementation of effective pre-crime prevention programs and fair services and rights for victims of crime.

The Board would be a permanent office that will achieve its purpose, inter alia, by:

  1. Providing leadership to federal action;
  2. Collaborating with the Provinces and other relevant entities to agree and implement a national strategic plan and long term framework;
  3. Gathering and analyzing practical knowledge in order to foster widespread application of effective and cost efficient programs;
  4. Developing national standards and ways to foster practices and guidelines that meet those standards;
  5. Monitoring achievements in reducing crime and harm to victims and making recommendations for additional actions.

Violence Prevention Protects Canadians from Becoming Victims and Harm

The World Health Organization has reviewed the scientific studies on what prevents violence.  It asserts that violence is preventable, not inevitable, and recommends investing significantly in proven and targeted pre-crime prevention and services for victims of crime. – WHO, 2004, 2009, 2010

The Minister has framed the Act by calling attention to the 440,000 violent crimes and 1.3 million property crimes recorded by the police in a year.  He also cites the $83 billion that Justice Canada estimates crime costs victims of crime.  He has called for quick action to reduce the number of victims and harm done to them.

A permanent Crime Reduction Board for Canada would ensure investment in those actions known to stop Canadians from being victims of crime.  It would bring services for crime victims to international standards (read more on investment in Globe and Mail Op-ed).  Pre-crime prevention is well established as an effective and cost efficient way to reduce victimization and prevent violence.  Less crime and violence means less harm to victims, less costs to taxpayers and relief from heavy workloads for police, lawyers and corrections.

Crime Prevention in Canada

Two out of every three Canadians prefer to lower crime through additional funding for education and jobs rather than more police and prisons. – Gallup, 2004;

We know of the proven success of many positive pre-crime prevention programs in reducing the numbers of victims of crime.  The World Health Organization has identified programs for which there is strong evidence, such as helping teens at risk complete school, controlling the abuse of alcohol and improving parenting. Indeed, Public Safety Canada includes many of these programs on its website (US provides even more extensive website on what works to stop crime).

But we do not need to just look abroad.  We have our own compelling success stories that come from cooperation between police, youth services, academics, insurance companies and more.

In Winnipeg for instance, the number of victims of car thefts have been significantly reduced by an Auto Theft Suppression Strategy that combines smart enforcement, victim protection and pre-crime prevention.  Since 2005, the investment of $50 million has been recovered with $40 million saved each year to taxpayers and likely much more in reduced harm to victims.

We can look to south-western Ontario, where sexual assaults are proven to have been reduced by an innovative new curriculum in schools called the Fourth R: Relationship-Based Violence Prevention;  This program is being used more and more across Canada but could be used yet more to significantly reduce the number of women who are victims of violence.

But to spread prevention, you have to have a permanent high level leadership centre.  This would be the role of the Crime Reduction Board, which must spearhead a national framework, collaborate with provinces, municipal government, police agencies and much more.  It must develop national standards and foster Canadian entities learning from each other´s successes.

The United Nations knows that.  But so does, Alberta who has a comprehensive, permanent and evidence based crime reduction and community safety strategy balancing smart enforcement, treatment programs and effective pre-crime prevention.  This strategy is framed in terms of reducing the numbers of victims of crime and harm to victims.

Saskatchewan announced a similar framework in September.   Their association of chiefs of police praised the initiative for using intervention and prevention in collaboration with partner agencies …(to)  significantly enhance our chances of success.  But these Provincial initiatives need a strong and high level federal partner.

In Scotland, the police for Glasgow turned to a public health vision to reduce harm to victims.  Today, the national Violence Reduction Unit is a permanent agency of the Scottish executive established in 2006.  It has demonstrated more than 50% reductions in violent crime through a combination of smart enforcement and pre-crime prevention.

England and Wales legislated its Youth Justice Board in 1998 that has demonstrated significant reductions in youth crime from extensive use of pre-crime prevention, known as youth inclusion programs.  Their proven success with 70 projects led to spreading the programs more widely.

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