I. Introduction to the special issue
The year 2004 marked the tenth anniversary of two significant events in the development of crime prevention in Canada: the launch of the first phase of the National Crime Prevention Strategy and the founding of the International Centre for the Prevention of Crime.
The federal government launched Phase I of the National Strategy on Crime Prevention and Community Safety in July 1994. It included initiatives aimed at family violence and drugs as well as the creation of a national crime prevention secretariat. However, the centrepiece of the strategy was the creation of a National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC). The NCPC was composed of 25 volunteers drawn from across the country and representing many of the key sectors interested or involved in prevention or related activities. Its mandate was to help design a road map for policy and action aimed at creating a safer society. The NCPC strove to do this by providing policy advice to governments on pro-active approaches to crime, victimization, and insecurity and by acting as a voice for communities in the development of prevention policy.
The NCPC chose to focus its limited resources (about $525,000 per year) on the design of prevention initiatives aimed at children, youth, and families. The work was organized around the recognition of two simple truths (Canada, NCPC 1997c). The first is that children and families of all types have similar needs and confront similar challenges; however, there are enormous differences in their capacity to meet these challenges and in their access to the resources or tools they require. A prevention strategy must seek to reduce these inequalities and strive to provide the resources families and young people need to confront the challenges they face.
The second truth reflects the recognition that governments are over-committed and are often either unwilling to divert funds from elsewhere or unable to invest new resources into crime prevention. Moreover, it is unlikely that the private sector will find the types of profit opportunities that will induce it to get involved here on a large-scale basis, especially in attempts to address the risk factors related to social development. The result is a reliance on communities to take up the slack. But communities vary enormously in the problems they face and in their capacity to engage in successful prevention or problem-solving activities. There is often an inverse relation between the extent of the problems and capacity: the communities facing the greatest challenges usually do not have access to the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to mount an effective response. A national prevention strategy must help develop community capacity and support community mobilization.
The federal government ended its support of the NCPC in 1997, after the council had submitted its final reports (Canada, NCPC 1996, 1997a, 1997b, 1997c). On the basis, in large part, of this foundational work, the federal government launched Phase II of the National Crime Prevention Strategy (NCPS) in 1998. This phase included the creation of a National Crime Prevention Centre within the Department of Justice and the investment of $32 million per year in support of prevention activities. The article by Leonard, Rosario, Scott, and Bressan in this issue gives some information and strategic perspective on the activities undertaken by the NCPS.
The year 1994 also marked the launch of the International Centre for the Prevention of Crime (ICPC); Irvin Waller was its founder and first executive director. The ICPC is funded in part by the City of Montreal, the province of Quebec, the government of Canada, and nine other national governments. Their support of the ICPC reflects a desire to share what has been learned from their own experiences and to benefit from initiatives undertaken in other jurisdictions. The goal of the ICPC is to contribute to improving policies and programs in crime prevention and community safety around the world. …