Diversion programme second chance for youth

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 1:55 p.m. November 9, 2016
Updated: 3:42 p.m. November 14, 2016

When police and community work together, good things happen.

Group of man and women, some in police uniform sitting at a gathering
23 Division Insp. Ian Stratford (r) with Auxiliary Supts. Frank Fernandes (l) and Duncan Walker, who have a combined 89 years of volunteer service.

For the last five years, 23 Division has teamed up with Albion Neighbourhood Services (ANS) to operate a diversion program for young people under the age of 18.

“If they commit a crime, they have an opportunity not to have a record and to come to us for six weeks and put in some time,” said ANS executive director Lisa Kostakis, at the launch of this year’s Crime Prevention Week campaign at the Rexdale Community Hub on November 9. “We put them through our Boys and Girls Club department and we have some phenomenal success stories in that the youth stay longer than the six weeks.

“This program gives an opportunity, a second chance, and that cannot be done without the initiative and decision of, first and foremost the police officer, to lay or not lay a charge.”

Over the years, some police Divisions independently partnered with local community agencies to provide intervention programs.

The Toronto Police Service is about to launch a city-wide youth pre-charge diversion program for youths

It is a community-based alternative to address less serious incidents of crime reported to police that are committed by young people between 12 and 17. The purpose is not only to reduce the number of young people entering the justice system, but to provide meaningful intervention at critical times of their lives.”

Crime Prevention Week Kickoff

This year’s Crime Prevention Week theme is, “Planning Together for Safer Communities.”

“Tradititonal policing, back in the day, was just enforcement and that’s quite straightforward,” said Chief Mark Saunders. “That wasn’t what real policing work should be. Real police work is about community safety. So when you think about policing and transfer it with community safety, it emphasizes the importance of partnerships. If we in law enforcement are going to be successful, we have to have strong partnerships.”

Toronto Police Services Board member Marie Moliner and Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police government relations and communications director Joe Couto spoke at the event.

“Hubs like the one, here at Rexdale, get us away from the idea that the police respond to crime,” said Couto. “If we do that, in a lot of ways we fail. What if we brought community groups together and we start solving crime when it starts. As police, we need you in our communities to step up and be leaders.”

Grade Three students from Highfield Junior School sang the national anthem to kick off the proceedings.

Group of students singing
Students from Highfield Junior School sang the national anthem at the Crime Prevention Week launch
Crime Prevention Week Kickoff
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