Crime Prevention: Partnering to change public policy
WHO: Rick Linden, professor of sociology and criminology.
WHAT: Linden teamed up with co-researchers Bob Mann and Reg Smart from the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health in Toronto to investigate motor vehicle issues affecting public safety, including road rage, dangerous driving, drugs and alcohol and driving, auto theft, and auto insurance fraud. As chair of the Manitoba Auto Theft Task Force, Linden helped to design and implement the Winnipeg Auto Theft Suppression Strategy (WATSS) targeted at high-risk auto theft offenders.
HIS GOAL: To reduce Winnipeg’s crime rates by working with community agencies and the Winnipeg Police Service.
SUCCESS: Once North America’s leader in auto thefts, Winnipeg’s rates have dropped by more than 80 percent. WATSS won the 2010 Quality Policing Award from the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
THE IMPACT: The strategy is saving Winnipeggers over $30 million a year in vehicle insurance premiums. WATSS’ success has led to several other initiatives. The Gang Response and Suppression Program program—Linden serves on the management committee—targets high-risk adult gang members and enforces compliance with conditions ordered by courts as part of their bail or probation orders. Another program, Block by Block, recently launched in the William Whyte neighbourhood to better connect community agencies that serve the area’s troubled youth. The program enables police to work with resources involving child welfare, health, addictions, education and probation. “Service delivery will be coordinated through a ‘hub,’” says Linden. “The hub’s goal is to intervene at an early stage before problems become serious.”
And the Smart Policing Initiative, which is currently being implemented in the East District by the Winnipeg Police Service, focuses on hot spots—places with a high incidence of crime and disorder— and on high-risk individuals, rather than simply responding to calls for service.
HIS INSPIRATION: “Crime has a huge impact on the lives of victims and costs taxpayers billions of dollars each year, so it has been very rewarding to be part of several initiatives that have successfully applied social science knowledge to public safety issues,” says Linden.
He is the chair of the Manitoba Police Commission, has authored Canada’s best-selling criminology text (now in its 8th edition), has published several crime prevention handbooks, and has evaluated many crime prevention programs.
FUNDERS: AUTO21 Network of Centres of Excellence