Kingston Police kicked off Crime Prevention Week on Sunday Nov. 1, 2020. The week-long promotion of crime prevention is supported by the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP), the Ministry of the Solicitor General, and police services across Ontario and runs until Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020.
Since the onset of COVID-19, Kingston Police and Youth Diversion have been working together to address an obvious gap impacting youth in our community. This unique initiative that began in September of this year has seen Youth Diversion staff embed with the Kingston Police to support the coordination and facilitation of pre and post charge diversion and Intersections referrals for children and youth between the age of eight and 17.
The ‘Intersections’ program is an early intervention program for youth and their families, and is a prime example of crime prevention. According to a report from Kingston Police dated Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, the program focuses on navigation and coordination of services for children and youth who are at-risk of becoming justice involved. The result for young people is improved well-being and reduced involvement with police services. Young individuals and/or their families often come into contact with police because of situations relating to mental health challenges, childhood and youth developmental needs and/or substance use struggles.
By linking up directly with the CORE unit and working alongside the Youth Programs officer, this partnership further strengthens a longstanding relationship for service delivery and the goal of crime prevention by reducing youth coming in contact with police.
“During difficult times such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, so many people in our community feeling anxious. That’s why it is especially important during these times to come together to prevent crimes before they start,” says S/Sgt Jody Armstrong from the Kingston Police Community Oriented Response and Engagement Unit. “Many crimes are preventable and Crime Prevention Week is a great opportunity for Kingstonians to think about what they can do to keep their families, neighbourhoods, schools, and workplaces safe from criminal activities.”
The partnership between Youth Diversion and Kingston Police also incorporates an evaluation component designed to measure the effectiveness of this initiative. For both EJM (Extrajudicial Measures) and Intersections, a significant increase in potential candidates, referrals, and acceptance into the programs was immediately seen in September when the pilot project was initiated, according to the report. EJM, which had seen no referrals throughout June, July and August, immediately saw two candidates referred when the pilot program was first initiated in September, according to police. Perhaps even more dramatically, since the pilot project started, the Intersections program, which had only had one referral between April and August of this year, saw 22 referrals made, with 18 of those (82 percent) receiving services to help these youth.
Kingston Police say the increase in referrals has been seen across the board in terms of two officers submissions, four online reports from parents/guardians via the Kingston Police website, four self-referrals initiated to Youth Diversion, which could possibly be attributed to news attention garnered by the initiative, and twelve reviews of police records systems by Youth Diversion staff operating out of the Kingston Police CORE Unit office.
These September statistics continue to grow into October and a full report is expected between the 2021 New Year and when the initial pilot project can be renewed in March 2021, according to the report.
After seeing the initial successes and integration between staff in a shared office environment, other police services in the East Region of Ontario are showing an interest in the pilot project between Kingston Police and Kingston Youth Diversion, according to the release.
Kingston Police are asking families in the Kingston area to use the newly adapted Intersection online reporting services, which is accessible through the Kingston Police website and provides rapid access to supports to address mental health and addiction struggles, parent/teen conflict and other behavioural challenges that find them in contact with the law.
According to Kingston Police, Ontario communities are among the safest in the world. But community safety and well-being takes hard work and collaboration. That’s why Kingston Police say they are proud to partner with government, community leaders, young people, and businesses to prevent crime throughout our community.