Crime Prevention Ottawa has been working collaboratively with partner agencies to address street violence in the city. The Ottawa Street Violence and Gang Strategy (OSVGS) seeks to address both the root causes that lead to street-level violence as well as the immediate trauma of violent incidents. These root causes include poverty, trauma, marginalization, racism and the global drug trade. Individuals involved in street-level violence are for the most part young men who grew up in poverty and experienced marginalization and racism. There are many needs that must be addressed to achieve systemic change. We have also been working to change the way that we build a common understanding about these issues through our collaborative discussions about messaging. The OSVGS is a collective impact strategy which is evaluated then refreshed, every three years
The OSVGS strives to tackle the problem of street violence holistically. The strategy focuses on individuals, their families and affected communities. This is done using four pillars of work:
A central focus of the OSVGS is the improving the responsiveness of partners to the concerns and needs of residents. To this end, partners continue to collaborate and build their capacity.
- Partners have developed a framework for implementation, the Post-Incident Neighbourhood Support Networks, to support neighbourhoods affected by traumatic events. It’s designed to better coordinate community responses to traumatic incidents ‒ such as shootings, murder, home takeovers, or major arrests. It also aims to build community resilience.
- CPO has funded neighbourhood initiatives since 2007. We have collaborated with Jasmine Crescent, Heron Gate, Lowertown, Vanier and Pinecrest-Queensway. We are currently working with Overbrook.
Learn more about our neighbourhood work in the report, A Story of Neighbourhood-based Crime Prevention. This United Neighbours Levers of Change project addresses safety priorities in Pinecrest-Queensway and strengthens partnerships between residents and community agencies.
The strategy’s street violence prevention initiatives aim to positively engage young people with their families, their schools and their communities to prevent involvement in street-level violence.
To date, our partners have:
- Created an enhanced risk identification tool and improved information sharing among agencies to connect youth and families to services.
- Funded a program that supports family members of someone charged with crime related to street violence in ways that are culturally appropriate, coordinated and equitable.
- Hosted training and information events to contribute to the capacity building of the many service agencies and community organizations involved in preventing street violence.
- Worked with the YOW Program Ottawa to bridge the gap between youth and the services they need.
The strategy focuses on intervention practices serving both youth and adults involved in street-level violence. Through projects and initiatives, we seek to address the root causes of street violence by providing supports and referrals to specialized health care (including mental health), skills development, education and employment, community and family resources, and more.
Time for Change
Since 2015, the Time for Change program has served as an intervention program for individuals involved in and impacted by street-level violence. Program activities aim to help change behaviours and outlooks regarding criminal activity, and provide referrals to social services and resources. The program has contributed to reducing violent offences, building strong connections for participants, offsetting costs to the criminal justice and healthcare systems, and contributing to a safer community.
Other intervention activities include:
- Ottawa Community Youth Diversion Program: Successfully supporting over 350 at-risk youth through this program, which assists youth in conflict with the law.
- On Point (intervention stream): Provides intervention supports to youth from Youturn Youth Support Services.
- YSB Youth Justice Services: Focuses on young men involved in the criminal justice system, including in detention or custody, and assists with community reintegration.
Enforcement and suppression
The Ottawa Police Service works to suppress street-level violence and promote accountability through the effective and equitable enforcement of laws.
The strategy facilitates partnerships among and between community agencies and police services. Working together, their goal is to provide equitable responses to street-level violence, encourage alternative diversion options and promote referrals to community services.