As far back as 2008, then Chief of Police Dale McFee and his colleagues were urgently seeking new solutions to community safety in the City of Prince Albert, SK. The city’s crime and violence levels were well above national and even provincial standards, and police calls for service had doubled over the preceding decade, with a trend line projecting this to double again in a span of less than 8 years.
McFee and his colleagues learned that the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police ISIS program teams had identified some innovative and highly promising collaborative solutions that had been underway in Scotland for the past few years. The decision was made to seek the support of other concerned agencies serving Prince Albert, and soon, a multi-agency delegation was formed to travel to Glasgow to study these promising practices and to see if what was going on there might have anything to do with the challenges faced at home.
It was interesting to the study team to discover, even as they prepared for their site visit, that on 15 key indicators, the Cities of Glasgow and Prince Albert seemed to have a lot more in common than one might have guessed. These ranged from the dominance of alcohol as a contributing factor in crime and disorder, to the higher than average rates of suicide, domestic violence, teen pregnancy, HIV and Hep C, and truancy, to notably disturbing rates of unemployment, with all of these conditions over-represented within the most marginalized sectors of both societies.
While in Glasgow, the Prince Albert delegation was hosted principally by the Strathclyde Police, and the team was also invited to meet with a wide array of agencies and professionals from across the full spectrum of Scotland’s social system. The team was impressed by a number of innovative approaches, including the award winning Violence Reduction Unit, gang diversion programs, initiatives engaging the medical and dental communities in violence identification and reduction, and the general commitment of the Scots to a ‘Public Health’ model for reducing crime, disorder and violence in their society. By the end of their study week, there was strong consensus on the three observations that struck the team members the most as high potential take-aways for Saskatchewan.
The first was the Scottish Concordat – a joint, signed commitment between the government of the country and the municipal authorities responsible for community life in its cities and towns. This high level imperative became the model for the Enterprise Charter that now defines the BPRC.
The second was GCSS (G-Cass), which stands for the Glasgow Community Safety Services – a multi-agency collaborative environment for analysis and systemic solutions.
And the third was a still-experimental model operating in Govanhill, a troubled neighbourhood in South Glasgow, where the local police Superintendent and her agency partners had recently begun an innovative and promising daily roundtable process for identifying and addressing elevated risk situations before they became incidents – through a process the Scots called ‘daily tasking’.
Within weeks of returning from the field, the study team rapidly transformed from researchers to architects, and the decision was made to combine the power of these two models, and the Community Mobilization Prince Albert model of the Hub and COR was conceived, formed and activated.