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Crime Prevention through Social Development

Crime Prevention through Social Development

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A recent study by the Ministry of Justice estimates the total cost of expenses attributable to criminal acts in Canada at 59 billion dollars annually.

Invariably, crime constitutes one of the main sources of local preoccupation. Thus, prevention is not only a police matter: it concerns us all! Let's get involved… it's a sound investment!

Maybe you are asking yourself:

  • where to start?
  • where to target your intervention?
  • what to do to become involved?

The advice on crime prevention which follows will help you answer those questions. They are grouped in four information modules:

Go to the heart of the problem
Change things
Follow examples
Invest for the long term

Go to the heart of the problem

Crime prevention through social development (CPSD) is a strategy which favours the struggle against the underlying causes of criminal activity and victimization. It is a long-term approach which requires the mobilization of the dynamic forces within a community.

Every criminal act has consequences, first for the victim then on his surroundings and sometimes even on the entire community. The most effective way - and the least expensive - of preventing crime, is to intervene early to assist those who risk becoming offenders or victims.


The causes of criminal activity are complex. We know however that the combination of several factors can bring an individual to commit criminal acts. We call them risk factors. Here are a few:

Risk factors

  • Poverty
  • Inadequate parental skills
  • Drug addiction and alcoholism
  • School drop-out
  • Abusive treatment
  • Weak self esteem
  • Bad acquaintances

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Change things


As an entrepreneur, you play a fundamental economic and social role in the development of your community. Your commitment can contribute to ensure a better quality of life for the members of your community, for example in the prevention of delinquency. You may also derive benefits yourself, such as:

  • a secure social environment, more favourable to the proper functioning of your business;
  • a greater visibility for your business, your brand or your banner;
  • an excellent opportunity to expand your network by making new friends or customers;
  • social recognition and positive reputation;
  • an appreciation by your employees. Employees favourably perceive an entrepreneur who personally undertakes to help the most deprived, which entails an intensification of their feeling of belonging and pride.


Participate in financing campaigns within your community organizations. Communicate with your CLSC, your community centre, your municipal councillor, your political representatives or with police officers in your area to know the organizations which need you in order to really change things.

Pay attention to what is happening in your community. Consult the regional newspapers to know the prevention projects in your neighbourhood and offer your collaboration.

Make your resources available to the community. Your involvement can sometimes be worth more than your financial contribution in the eyes of your entourage. You can, for example, offer your expertise or even be a part of the board of directors of an organization in your neighbourhood.

Speak about crime prevention with the members of the associations to which you belong in order to identify how you could all work together.

Inform your employees. Use news bulletins, notice boards, group meetings to:

  • inform them about the importance of adopting a community approach together to crime prevention through social development;
  • recognize the good work of your employees in this field;
  • make them aware of organizations and initiatives which exist and encourage each one to find those which suit them;
  • produce and circulate advice on the prevention of criminal activities.

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Follow examples

This section describes two examples of prevention through social development programs, as well as testimonials from participants.

Program name
«Y'a quelqu'un l'aut'bord du mur»
("There's someone on the other side of the wall")

    Main objectives
  • Prevent criminal activity by promoting social and professional integration of troubled youth, within your neighbourhood
  • Improve the quality of life in the neighbourhood by removing graffiti

Merchants from Promenade Ontario in Montréal got together with the social workers. Their project creates employment for about twenty youth from 16 to 25 years old. They remove graffiti which damages the visual environment of the neighbourhood.

The main promoter of the project is the "Société de développement des affaires commerciales de la Promenade Ontario", a non-profit organization which insures an active presence in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve sector of Montréal. It numbers more than 200 merchants and professionals.


Marie-Rose Gagné - Dollarama
I wanted to have better quality of life in the neighbourhood. I made some inquiries with my merchants' association. I found the program «There is someone on the other side of the wall». It helps the youth and it makes the neighbourhood more secure. That is necessary for the proper functioning of businesses!

Pierre André Jacob - Florist
I met with the other merchants. I consulted social workers. Together, we created « There's someone on the other side of the wall ». We give employment to youth 16 to 25 years old who have difficulty integrating into society. They need positive role models. In addition, I made new friends and customers. I really participate in community development.

Roger Gallagher - Director General Manager, SIDAC Promenade Ontario
It is a promising program. In the long run, it will reduce criminal activity. Our youth develop qualities which will help them to keep a job or to pursue their studies, for example, punctuality, capacity to complete a task or to attain objectives. They work. They clean and embellish the neighbourhood. It promotes clientele. It creates optimism in the entire community.

Program name
«Polyglobe», also called «L'école, restez-y!»
("Polyglobe", also called "School, stay in!")

    Main objectives
  • Prevent school dropouts
  • Maximize the chances of social integration for youth in trouble

This project aims to fight against school dropouts, which affects 35% of young Montréalers. Companies and public organizations or para publics welcome young people for training or industrial visits. It allows them to develop a new vision of the world, to create links, to live stimulating experiences and to enrich their curriculum vitae.

The main promoter of the project is "Fonds Ville-Marie", launched in 1995 by the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce of Montréal and the City of Montréal. The objective of "Le Fonds" is to allow the use of a percentage of the annual profits of "Stationnement de Montréal" to reduce poverty among youth, to contribute to the promotion and advancement of education and to implement programs aiming to prevent and counter school dropout. For every 25 cent piece deposited in a parking meter, one cent is paid to "Fonds Ville-Marie" which, since 1995 has contributed more than 1.8 million dollars to projects answering its mission.


Mélanie Kau - President, Mobilia
The circle of acquaintances of a youth is important. My father said that one is never anything but the sum of the influences which one received. Secondly, what counts is the opinion of friends and everything that happens outside the family. So, the Polyglobe program attempts to surround our youth with positive influences. It restores their will to learn. It shows that with a little effort, our dreams come true. That can make a difference between a youth who is going to make a success of his life and a criminal.

Alcino Roque - CGI
I sponsor a youth. He comes here. I show him our trade. He sees adults succeeding in their work. I believe that this can give him the taste to go farther. I do not expect results tomorrow morning … Prevention through social development, it's a long-term investment. For me, it is my way of helping. I encourage those who are our future.

Marie-Élaine Normandeau - Director, Fonds Ville-Marie
Since 2001, 1330 young Montréalers have participated in Polyglobe. Especially students in 3rd or 4th year high school. They come from schools with a very high dropout rate. Training sessions take place during the summer. They last about 60 hours. This gives rise to winning situations for all parties. The youth explore a trade or a profession. The employers have the satisfaction of helping them.

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Invest for the long term

By uniting their efforts, business leaders, as well as citizens, contribute to the emergence of an energy which can only reflect positively on the community as a whole.

However, it requires time to change the mentalities and behaviour, in order that a youth commits himself and takes his place in society, and to notice a decline in criminal activity within communities and businesses. This is why it is necessary to persevere and not expect immediate results. Prevention of crime through social development, it is a sound investment... over a longer term.

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