Sunday, July 15, 2012

Anti-crime and government cash

A hot and muggy Toronto summer night. Crime in the city.
I'm back in Toronto this week pondering recent shootings and how things have changed in this city. Like everywhere, crime is down here too. Is shifting demographics or the economy the cause? Better policing? Crime prevention?

In 2005 Toronto experienced the "summer of the gun" - rampant shootings and gang killings. The government responded with a $200 million social development program, the so-called neighborhoods strategy. From what I can see it was implemented on a wide range of social programs, focused on high crime hotspots. No doubt some great individual stories and anecdotes arose.

Today a Toronto Star news article reports the program is running out of government cash. So local politicians just decided to refund it. Incidentally, without hard evidence.

That's right: After 7 years of operation the Toronto Star says "hard data on the campaign’s impact does not exist...They are working on a plan to track progress this time around."

What? Almost a quarter billion dollars and no hard evidence? It took them 7 years to figure out evidence is not a trivial matter?


Ironically (or more to the point, intentionally) our 2000 - 2011 San Romanoway SafeGrowth project in that same city was intensely researched and tracked.

We saw crime declines, minimal displacement, and neighborhood capacity building. Results were published in scholarly journals and released for scrutiny. Now 12 years later, residents there run and fund programs themselves.

Yet, in the same city a few miles away no one thought to track nearly a quarter billion dollars for a 2005 anti-crime social program?

Next blog: A better way. Frank Zimring's book "New York's Lessons for Crime and it's Control."

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