Crime prevention is based on the idea that there are social, economic, and health factors that contribute to offending. Crime prevention strategies are designed to enhance positive influences and minimize negative ones; for example, increasing connectivity and engagement within a community, strengthening family ties, and creating activities for youth.
Studies have shown that the cost of preventing crime is much lower than the cost of the Criminal Justice System response to crime, and it yields greater long-term benefits. And yet, as we heard at our Surrey roundtable, they can be a challenge to measure and we should not discount the need for communities to modify a model according to their needs and available resources.
The Environics Institute for Survey Research has found that in fighting crime, 63 per cent of Canadians prefer crime prevention over law enforcement, the highest level recorded since Environics began to ask the question in 1994. In our Prince George regional roundtable, for example, many participants wanted police to play a role in crime prevention, but did not think it was up to police to lead crime prevention, especially when police need to focus on adapting to crime as it becomes more sophisticated, international, and complex.
One thing is clear – the development of best practices in crime prevention is still very much under discussion.
What crime prevention programs are you aware of that you think are effective? What makes them effective?