GUEST BLOG: Tarah Hodgkinson is a senior researcher in the Integrated Risk Assessment Instrument Research Group in Vancouver, Canada. She is a member of the International CPTED Association and a certified SafeGrowth instructor. She is completing her Ph.D in criminology at Simon Fraser University.
I dream of Canada as a country that significantly funds incredible local crime prevention programs like SafeGrowth that engage the community and police as partners. Programs that put our neighbourhoods in charge. I want a country that encourages our universities and communities to use what we already know about crime prevention and policing by putting it into practice.
A few weeks ago I attended Public Safety Canada’s Economics of Policing and Community Safety conference in Ottawa. The conference started three years ago to respond to increasing policing costs in a time of fiscal constraint.
However instead of frontline workers talking about innovation and partnerships with their neighbourhoods, or practitioners sharing tales of their work in crime prevention, the conference room was full of senior police and policy people. Where were the people driving change currently?
The final conference discussions came down to future research and plans of action. However research questions focused on building a national framework and studying efficiency and effectiveness. Despite several calls for it, action was lacking.
Consider the vast amount of research on how such measures are useless because it is almost impossible to define efficiency and effectiveness without reducing them to response times and crime rates! Consider there has already been inconclusive police research about those very questions! Consider that a national research project is addressing this question already!
A different future unfolding elsewhere
Why not discuss how to expand successful, and proven, local crime prevention and neighbourhood safety strategies in Canada such as SafeGrowth? Why not discuss more innovative ways that the police can support and collaborate with neighbourhood-led change? Or better yet, use those limited research dollars to implement and evaluate these strategies?
I asked in frustration: “How can we talk about a national framework for Canada when we have a tiered policing system that ignores the size and role of private security and local non-police led crime prevention? How can we spend money on ANOTHER study on measuring effectiveness and efficiency?”
“How can we not do something in our neighbouhoods NOW?”
My questions may fall on deaf ears. But maybe that doesn't matter because here’s the more important question: Perhaps a different future must unfold elsewhere?