In the past few months it has seen gang wars, drive-by shootings, murder and open drug trafficking.
I’m not talking about Vancouver. Not even Regina. This is happening in North Battleford, a town of approximately 14,000 people... in Saskatchewan of all places.
This has some pertinence to Yorkton. Prosperity brings the good with the bad. And we have seen some of that bad. Not as bad perhaps as North Battleford has had it of late, but we still rank pretty high on the crime severity index.
So, what is a town struggling with violent crime to do? North Battleford has decided it is going to start a Neighbourhood Watch Program.
This is certainly not a bad idea, in theory.
“The neighbourhood watch program in its own right is probably one of the most significant things that a community can do to lessen their risks,” said Mayor Ian Hamilton.
I’m not exactly sure where the mayor is getting his evidence for this. What I have seen in the literature is mostly inconclusive. A very good meta-analysis published in 2008 out of the University of Glamorgan, United Kingdom concluded some Neighbourhood Watch schemes are better than others, but that there is very little in available studies to inform communities considering such a program of what makes them so.
I’m not trying to be discouraging. It’s definitely worth a shot. After all, an engaged citizenry, in theory, should enhance limited police resources.
It’s something Yorktonites should be mindful of as well. Even if we are not talking about a formal program, it doesn’t hurt to report suspicious activity if you see it.
The other thing North Battleford RCMP is going to do is keep closer tabs on suspects who are released from custody. This is something that has also been implemented in Yorkton, which former Operations NCO Rob Laurent said has been quite effective.
We all have a role in preventing crime, whether it’s keeping eyes and ears open or getting involved with one of the many organizations in town that are actively engaged in the crime prevention strategy.