Thunder Bay

Crime prevention in Thunder Bay requires cash for root causes

The federal and provincial governments should be funding highly-targeted social development programs if they truly want to reduce crime, a University of Ottawa criminology professor said Friday.
Irvin Waller is a criminologist from the University of Ottawa. He spoke to Thunder Bay's Crime Prevention Council on Friday. (University of Ottawa)

The federal and provincial governments should be funding highly-targeted social development programs if they truly want to reduce crime, a University of Ottawa criminology professor said Friday.

Irvin Waller was in Thunder Bay to give a keynote address to members of the the Thunder Bay Crime Prevention Council at the Victoria Inn. "The key thing is to move from discussion of broad social programs, like reducing homelessness and creating jobs - all of which are important to reducing crime - to much more targeted social development, that gives you very big reductions in crime," said Waller after his address.

"This is 2016, we have 50 years of research that gives us confidence about what things actually work to reduce crime," he said. "So, outreaching to youth at risk, getting upstream with early childhood and parenting, changing school curricula to include stuff on relationships, and dealing with stuff in emergency rooms so that you actually diagnose the problems - those are all well-established as things that reduce crime. The problem is, that governments are not investing in these."

Municipalities, Waller said, are in a good position to know what they need to do to reduce crime. However, they can't fund all the necessary programs alone - the federal and provincial governments need to contribute, as well.

He said Canadian residents do support funding crime prevention initiatives. Politicians, however, don't always act in accordance with that support.

"I understand that politicians are influenced by a small group of victims who've suffered some pretty nasty life experiences, but if we're going to reduce those nasty life experiences, then we have to go where the majority of Canadians are, and that is investing in prevention."

"The public is largely in line with the evidence. They don't know that youth inclusion programs or stuff in hospital emergency rooms give these really impressive results, but their gut is that those are the sorts of things that would make a difference."

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