Youth, policing and the Canadian criminal justice system

Presentation First Author: 
Rick Shaw

The policing profession has been slow to react to the emerging evidence of the past couple decades regarding what works and what doesn't work to prevent youth involvement in crime. In Canada, the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA), based on the emerging evidence, mandates police to consider alternatives to the criminal justice system such as referrals to community services and engagement of community partners. Since the implementation of the YCJA in 2003, police have not made good use of the provisions of the Act which applies to young people between 12 and 17 years of age.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Youth Intervention and Diversion (YID) model makes full use of the provisions of the YCJA recognizing the important role police play as gate keepers to the criminal justice system. Using the Risk/Need/Responsivity theory, YID seeks to divert youth from the criminal justice system using evidence-based screening and assessment tools. These tools are designed to identify the risk factors leading to a young person's criminal behaviour. A mental health issue is often one of the underlying causes. In fact, studies confirm the criminal justice system is over-represented by people with mental health needs.

This presentation will explore the successful implementation of the YID model by the RCMP in the province of New Brunswick, which contributed to unprecedented reductions in youth crime. It will also explore the success of the model in engaging service providers (both mandated and non-mandated) who play vital roles in case planning and intervention. Finally, it will examine the role of police as leaders in policy development - showing the influence of the YID model on the Public Safety Strategy for the Government of New Brunswick.

If you have ever wondered how you or your agency could partner with the police to keep young people with mental health issues out of the criminal justice system, you need to see this presentation.

Conference Name: 
Date of Presentation: 
9th Oct 2015
Type of presentation: 
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