I read with interest yesterday that in the interests of holding our tax increase to 3.9%, the City of Ottawa is considering getting rid of Crime Prevention Ottawa.
I’ve attended a couple of community meetings organized by Crime Prevention Ottawa, and frankly I wasn’t all that impressed.
I’m in favour of crime prevention, but CPO’s approach to it is – in my opinion – conservative and uninspired. They have some interesting board members, but the organization itself is boring.
Among other things, they called for increased policing and surveillance, and they supported the proposed SCAN legislation, which fortunately died last week on the third reading.
Crime rates continue to fall in this city, as they do across Canada, yet CPO seems to nurture the fear that crime is rampant.
In an aging population, the trend is for crime rates to go down while at the same time people’s fear of crime increases. This is because young males are the most crime-prone demographic in any society. In our aging population, there are proportionately fewer young males and hence less crime. Meanwhile, fear of crime is increasing because older people feel more vulnerable than they used to. (And maybe also because they’re sitting around watching more American propaganda crime fiction on TV, which is addling their brains and warping their sense of reality.)
There are different approaches to crime prevention, such as target hardening, environmental design, increased policing and surveillance. Personally I like the social development approach, which consists of building a better community and addressing issues of alienation and poverty. It means creating plenty of legitimate opportunities for people – especially young people – to feel socially and economically connected to their community.
To me that makes more sense than hiring more cops or enacting legislation that further erodes our civil rights.