A new integrated community safety initiative (ICSI) will strengthen collaboration among justice, health and social service partners to better address the roots of crime and violence in the region.
In addition to the $23-million expansion of B.C.’s Guns and Gangs strategy announced on April 15, 2016, Williams Lake and the Cariboo-Chilcotin will receive up to $500,000 in civil forfeiture grant funding to support the ICSI. Building on discussions involving the Province, the City of Williams Lake and First Nations leaders, a local steering committee has been established to prioritize community safety goals and guide targeted projects and activities over a two year period in the following areas:
- Regional collaboration on public safety issues
- Training and community capacity building to enhance frontline response
- Programs and services to better prevent and respond to crime
Examples of projects the steering committee may consider include expanding the prolific offender management committee, enhancing restorative justice services, crisis intervention training and community safety mobilization workshops amongst other initiatives. The steering committee will work to finalize project activities in the coming months. An initiative co-ordinator will be hired to lead the work under the direction of the steering committee.
The ICSI funding represents a portion of the $5 million Premier Christy Clark committed to target gangs, the roots of crime and the safety of First Nations at the Union of BC Municipalities convention in September 2015. The initiative also fulfils government’s commitment – upon the release of the report of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Crime Reduction in December 2014 – to consider a regional, integrated community safety partnership pilot project.
Mike Morris, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General –
“The B.C. government is committed to stopping violent crime. With a strong spirit of collaboration among First Nations and other local leaders, and among experts in justice, health and social agencies, this new funding will help them advance their insights into further action. The goal is to steer both young people away from becoming involved in unlawful activity and repeat offenders away from remaining criminals.”
Donna Barnett, MLA, Cariboo-Chilcotin –
“Gang and violent crime issues require attention, expertise and support that this integrated community safety initiative will promote. We are fortunate to have strong, local organizations working to make our communities safer.”
Walt Cobb, mayor, City of Williams Lake –
“Today’s news is something we have worked toward for some time. There is shared recognition of the need for more collaboration between agencies to address crime and violence across the region. The inclusive approach of the ICSI recognizes these issues don’t stop at the edge of the city or a particular First Nation, and I look forward to additional services, co-ordination and community safety as a result of this initiative.”
- In 2014, Williams Lake ranked first in violent crime severity among more than 300 Canadian municipalities with a population over 10,000, according to Statistics Canada.
- The ICSI initiative will include an evaluation component and the Province is committed to ensuring lessons learned through the ICSI are shared with other local government and First Nation partners.
- On April 15, the Province announced a $23-million expansion of its Guns and Gangs Strategy focused on effective police enforcement and prosecution, community safety and public engagement, and expanding laws and sanctions targeting illegal guns and gang violence. For more details, see: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2016PREM0041-000588
- Beginning in 2013, a Blue Ribbon panel of experts studied crime reduction opportunities for B.C. The panel’s report, entitled Getting Serious About Crime Reduction, advocated the use of cohesive, collaborative approaches to prevent and reduce crime. The report is online at: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/law-crime-and-justice/criminal-justice/police/publications/government/blue-ribon-crime-reduction.pdf
- In March 2016, close to $100,000 in civil and criminal forfeiture fund grants were provided to support four projects in Williams Lake and the Cariboo-Chilcotin region.