An evening with Dr. Waller, author of “The Science and secrets of ending violent crime”
(Doors at 630PM, Talk at 7PM)
How can we improve community safety and health? Join us for a presentation and community Q&A with Dr. Irvin Waller in discussion with community partners in Edmonton including REACH Edmonton, the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues, Public Interest Alberta, the Parkland Institute and others. The format will include a presentation from Dr. Waller as well as responses from local leaders and a Q&A.
Dan Jones: Criminologist and the Chair of Justice Studies at NorQuest College who retired from the Edmonton Police Service after 25 years of service.
Penny Frazier - Editor, Zine and Heard and Youth in Care Chronicles
Jenn Parsonage - EFCL President
Dr. Richard Lewanczuk - Senior Medical Director, Health System Integration, Alberta Health Services.
Erick Ambtman - End Poverty Edmonton
Kim Beaudin, Vice-Chief Congress of Aboriginal Peoples
Location: Telus Centre Room 150, University of Alberta (111st and 87 avenue)
Read More: What Mayor’s must do to stop violent crime:
His book sets out the compelling case for change from “accepting current rates of crime and escalating costs of police response” to ” saving lives, stopping trauma and injuries, and protecting women and children”. Overall applying the science smartly will reduce violence, invest in positive futures for young people, and avoid racialized police violence.
Tough on Causes
The facts are clear that tackling causes and risk factors of violence before crime happens is the most effective and cost-effective way to reduce crime. Here are examples of targeted social programs that have been proven to be successful in stopping violent crime and are explained more in the book:
- Outreach to young men through initiatives such as Cure Violence or Youth Inclusion Programs (YIP). This approach consists of street workers outreaching to young men to interrupt gang affiliation, mediate violent conflict, and mentor at-risk individuals. See page 63 for more information.
- Hospital-based violence intervention programs, which consist of social workers intervening with victims of violence in hospital emergency rooms to deal with trauma, prevent revenge shootings, and encourage young men to abandon gang-like lifestyle. See page 72 for more information.
- Programs in school curricula that focus on emotion regulation and problem-solving in order to help young men develop self-management skills and reduce impulsive responses causing violence. Programs like Life Skills Training, Becoming a Man and Stop Now and Plan have achieved up to 50% reductions in offending. See page 70 for more information.
- Offering support to families through programs such as Multisystemic Therapy. This approach requires therapists to work in homes, schools, and communities to provide parents with tools to transform the lives of troubled youth. See page 69 for more information.
Robust and Sustained Planning
Cities such as Glasgow that have achieved and sustained significant reductions in violence and homicide rates respected seven key elements that have been agreed at the UN for nearly 20 years but unfortunately not widely used. The success of Glasgow in reducing violence by 50% within three years and going on to get further reductions has inspired the Mayor of London (UK) to adopt the same strategy. The book describes the “seven essentials” for successful implementation of what works inspired by public health (see chapter 7).
- Establishing a permanent violence and crime reduction board for the city (see page 117). This responsibility centre is the energy behind developing and implementing crime prevention plans. City-level boards mobilize local talent, facilitate information sharing between sectors, and disseminate pertinent information to key stakeholders and the public.
- Being informed by violence prevention science and data (see page 118). It is crucial to base crime prevention on a multidisciplinary foundation of proven knowledge about crime problems, their causes, and promising and proven practices.
- Having an integrated crime prevention plan (see page 118). The UN Guidelines stress the need for a local plan that mobilizes various community and economic sectors to prevent crime. The plan must be based on diagnoses of local crime problems and should include performance standards, targeted solutions, training protocol, and outcome evaluations.
- Mobilizing sectors able to tackle causes (see page 119). Because of the nature of the risk factors that lead to crime, the permanent violence prevention board must mobilize talent able to help solve the problems. These individuals might include social workers, educators, health professionals, employment specialists, and sports figures as well as CJS workers.
- Having adequate and sustained funding (see page 121). Crime prevention requires adequate resources, including funding for structures and activities, in order to be sustained. There should be clear accountability for funding, implementation, and evaluation, and for the achievement of planned results.
- Developing standards and training for human talent (see page 121). For innovations to be successful, they will require the human talent capable of planning and implementing effective solutions.
- Having public support and engagement (see page 122). The public can play many roles in applying violence prevention science. They can become mentors, take precautions, and help map crime. They also can be advocates to get the permanent board and funding needed to implement crime prevention strategies. For instance, mothers and parents of at-risk young men tend to be successful actors in effecting change at the local and national levels.
He pointed to what officials in Glasgow did in the early 2000s as an approach that could work here.
At the time, the city of about 600,000 people was known as the most violent in Europe, he said, with a per capita homicide rate similar to what he believes Winnipeg's currently is — six per 100,000 people. The World Health Organization dubbed it "the murder capital of Europe."
The city set up an office of violence prevention and leveraged analysts and epidemiologists who began treating violence like a public health issue.
After a few years, the violent crime rate dropped by nearly 40 per cent. Homicides were cut in half, Waller said.
Waller said politicians here should set a five-year target of a 50 per cent reduction in the number of killings and do the things necessary to achieve that goal.
Those include "adequate and stable" funding for street-level support groups, placing support workers in hospitals and emergency rooms and providing a basic income for people living in disadvantaged areas.
"Winnipeg can do it if it wants," Waller said. "We know what to do, and it's a question of the province helping the city with the funding."
Currently, street-level supports in the city are not well-funded, Waller said. "That needs to change."