Wednesday, October 4, 2017

October 2, 2017 Council Meeting Notes: Council endorses recommendations for a possible pilot program to reduce discarded needles, and to increase reporting suspicious activity

As I noted late last month, Langley City’s Crime Prevention Task Group has been busy working on evaluating and recommending policies that can help reduce crime in our community, and send the signal that Langley City residents will not tolerate negative activity.

Council gave unanimous approval to the following recommendations from the task group on Monday night’s council meeting.

THAT the Task Group recommend that Council direct staff to investigate an information sticker for residents which would include RCMP non-emergency contact information and a space to write their own civic address.

THAT the Task Group recommend that Council direct City staff to investigate with Fraser Health, the possibility of a pilot program which would install needle drop boxes in areas where there is a pattern of discarded needles; and
THAT a public education component precede the pilot program.

The first recommendation stems from the fact that the RCMP uses data about reported suspicious and negative activity to target their resources. The more that people call in to report these activities, the better the RCMP can target crime hot spots.

At the same time, when there is an emergency, the stress in these situations can make people forget basic information. The following sticker is currently distributed to the business community.

Current "Report all suspicious activity" sticker that is distributed to businesses.

With a simple change from “Your Business Address” to “Your Address”, this sticker can also be distributed for home-use as well. This sticker would be distributed primarily to seniors, and be made available at locations such as the Langley Senior Resources Society Centre.

Broken glass theory is based on the concept that vandalism and other signs of negative activity in neighbourhoods increase crime. This is because these signs cause people to withdraw from the public realm, creating space for more bad actors. Inversely, addressing the physical negative elements in neighbourhoods decrease crime by drawing people back into the public realm, creating a sense of pride and ownership, pushing negative activity out of neighbourhoods.

When people see discarded needles in our community, a negative signal is sent. This signal causes people to withdraw from an area. By addressing discarded needles, more people will be drawn into our parks and public spaces, creating more eyes and ears on the street which leads to reduced crime.

Fraser Health currently distributes needles as part of their harm-reduction program. Unfortunately, their currently system of collecting needles is not working well in our community.

Task group members reviewed a report from Montreal which found that there is “strong evidence of reduced discarding following the installation of drop boxes; drop boxes were associated with reductions of up to 98% (95% CI: 72-100%) and significant reductions for areas up to 200m from a drop box.” Members thought a drop box pilot would be worthwhile in Langley City considering the success in other communities.

I look forward to seeing the results of City staff’s investigation with Fraser Health on a pilot program.

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