Out and About for Crime in Prince George
by Nicole Halseth
After four months of preparation, the push against crime in Prince George is steadily developing .
In January, Mayor Shari Green commissioned the creation of a task force aimed at addressing local crime, with a focus on improving crime reduction strategies and public safety. As part of this initiative, members of the task force committee will be meeting with community groups and members throughout the month of September. This is in an attempt to acquire and review feedback for their draft of recommendations, which is up for presentation to the city council.
Since January, this committee has been reviewing the example set by the award-winning crime-reduction model used in Surrey, B.C. This, coupled with an extensive study of existing local initiatives and services, has led to the formation of this current list of recommendations.
There are currently seven recommendations, broadly falling under four categories, which are up for review before the draft is finalized.
These categories are: prevention and deterrence, apprehension and prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration, and measuring perception and reality of crime.
Under the category of prevention and deterrence, one plan is to create a program intended to pull together existing services to help youth classified as ‘high-risk’, as well as implementing CUPE BC’s City Watch program. City Watch is a pre-existing union-led campaign which aims to encourage cooperation between employees in the community, police, and government, in regards to observing and reporting suspicious behavior.
A strategy for apprehension and prosecution involving the RCMP mapping high crime areas within Prince George using GIS technology. This is geared at improving distribution of police and emergency services.
Under rehabilitation and reintegration, one proposal is to partner with community groups that offer services for offenders and create a graffiti reporting and removal program.
One recommendation for the category of measurement and perception is to undertake a comprehensive survey of Prince George residents, in order to assess their perceptions and experiences regarding their personal safety. This would be the first survey of its kind undertaken in Prince George since 1999, when a UNBC survey was commissioned by the Institute for Social Research and Evaluation.
While it is hoped that these ideas will improve the crime situation in Prince George within the next few decades, Mayor Green recognizes that crime reduction goes above and beyond their limited scope and time frame.
In a statement, Green stated that “you’re never going to have 100 per cent crime-free community… I think it’s always going to be something you have an ongoing challenge with.” She is also cautioning against false-expectations of the committee’s suggestions.
However, the impacts of these steps against crime will be felt throughout the community. Anyone who lives within Prince George, including students at UNBC, will be subject to the evolving results of this initiative in the next few years. It remains to be seen just how these ideas will affect the community, but through the current process of revision and collaboration, it is hopeful that they will become as comprehensive and effective as possible.
Following this process, the final set of recommendations will be put to the city council for consideration on October 28th, 2013.