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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Let´s prevent violence against women and girls – we have more knowledge than we think
It is time for developed and developing countries alike to take the issues of the prevention of gender based violence seriously by investing in what will stop the violence and assist the victims to survive better.
We have evidence on what works and how to implement it, but we are not using it. Currently victims experience pain and loss equivalent to 5% of GDP for inter-personal violence in developed countries and much higher in many less affluent countries. Yet the evidence shows that a relatively small investment – maybe 2/10th of one percent of GDP – would reduce violence by 50% within 10 years.
The critical implementation steps require a shift from over-relying on what does not work to investing in what has been proven to work. It must also include greater investment in (secondary) pre-crime prevention programs that follow a ¨logical model¨ to reduce violence against women and children. The World Health Organization is providing leadership to help governments make the shifts in orientation and resources.
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Let´s Get Smart on Crime in Canada – Make A Safe Canada, Safer for All (and, SaveTaxes)
The time is long overdue to shift from over-reliance on a ¨reactive, punishment and sensational case¨ agenda to a ¨victim centred, prevention and evidence based agenda¨. Canada must get smart on crime by supporting its pioneering best practices in effective community safety and victim rights, catch up with other advanced nations, and use evidence on what is cost effective.
Canada needs a Crime Reduction and Victim Assistance Act that establishes a National Crime Reduction and Victim Assistance Board to spearhead the shift to an effective violence reduction and victim assistance agenda, through federal, provincial, territorial and municipal collaboration to support all sectors with funding to establish standards, research and development, training and data. It should establish consensus to set and evaluate targets for 2025.
Interpersonal violence does $83 billion in harm to victims each year in Canada – equivalent to 5% of the Canadian GDP. We have the knowledge that investing as little as 1/10th of one percent of our GDP – $1.6 billion – in proven and logical prevention strategies annually would reduce this harm of interpersonal violence to victims by at least 50% by 2025. Why not?
Because investment in proven violence prevention would reduce street and intimate partner violence, it will reduce the demand for: expensive policing; jails overcrowded with persons waiting trial; and unnecessary incarceration. By 2025, it could avoid growth in expenditures on policing and prisons and so save $6 billion a year in current dollars.
Canada must also champion national standards for services and rights for all crime victims that are at least as good as other advanced nations. This will require a proportion of the new investment in prevention to go to the implementation and evaluation of actions that would truly support and show respect for victims of violence on streets, in intimate partnerships and in other areas of living.
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