Youth crime at the north end of the island has increased in the last year, and concerned parents met with RCMP Thursday (Oct. 14) to discuss what to do, Heidi Bevington writes.
The number of young people from the north end involved in the court system has increased by 51-percent since October 2003 said Sgt. Andrew Isles of the Masset detachment. Parents, police and community leaders from all three communities met in Old Massett to brainstorm possible solutions.
“We have a lot of good kids here,” said Sgt. Isles, “but there are a few issues and we want to deal with them.”
About 30 people gathered in the Old Massett Village Council administration building gym, including three councillors, the chief councillor, hereditary chiefs, Art Lew of Community Futures, and teen centre representatives Bernard Kerrigan and Mike McLeod.
“We laid out what we have been doing,” said Sgt. Isles, and then opened it up to the floor. Parents are looking for help and support to kept their kids safe, and police are hoping for help from parents, he said.
Youth are a strategic priority for Masset police, said Sgt. Isles, which means addressing the root causes of youth crime, especially drugs and alcohol.
“We can predict trends like an increase in drug use and therefore predict events like increased use of harder drugs, increased crime rates, overdoses, violence in relationships and influence of organized crime,” said Sgt. Isles.
So far, the police have been using education and preventative measures and well as promoting restorative justice to decrease youth crime.
Some recommendations came out of the meeting for parents, police and community members to act on. Police suggested it would be helpful to have parents out on the streets in the evening to check what kids are doing, help kids in distress and call police when needed. Parents asked for more police presence during closing time at the bars where kids tend to gather to see fights and follow the adults to after-hours parties. And the teen centre representatives suggested improving the teen centre building and outside lighting to make the centre more attractive and safe. Parents also discussed getting more support for teens from other agencies, an idea the police supported said Sgt. Isles.
The meeting was very positive and upbeat, said Mr. Lew. Everyone there showed a real commitment to youth, and “want to get an environment for youth to succeed.”
The group agreed to work on these recommendations and meet again in a couple of months to see whether they were effective.
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