Ontario's Guns and Gangs Strategy Phase Two Initiatives
Ontario's Government continues to put people at the centre of its commitment to public safety by committing $16.4 million to fight gun crime and gang activities over the next two years for initiatives that boost local crime prevention, enforcement and prosecution.
Enforcement and prosecution become more effective at combatting guns and gangs when combined with prevention and intervention initiatives that promote alternatives to gangs and prevent violent offending before it starts. Taking a comprehensive approach to community safety, Ontario's strategy will combat guns and gangs on all fronts.
Foundation of Strong Enforcement and Prosecution
Phase two will provide additional resources and tools to support Ontario's frontline police officers, law enforcement teams and justice partners to effectively combat gun and gang-related crime. The province will:
- Launch a new Provincial Gun and Gang Support Unit to strengthen the province's enforcement capacity to conduct major gun and gang investigations and prosecutions across jurisdictions and improve province-wide intelligence gathering, integration and coordination. The unit is a highly specialized team of police officers and prosecutors with gun and gang expertise, human trafficking and community intervention specialists. Local police services and prosecutors will be supported by the unit while conducting regional and inter-jurisdictional gun and gang investigations.
- Develop a dedicated Gun and Gang Specialized Investigations Fund to support Joint Forces Operations - major investigations involving multiple police services - to target the organized crime areas that fuel gang operations. This will include drug, gun and human trafficking, which will be informed by intelligence analysis support.
- Increase corrections intelligence and security by delivering training to corrections staff to enhance the identification of security threats, improve intelligence reporting and court preparation as well as address specific challenges in correctional institutions such as contraband smuggling. Investment will also be made in new technologies to assist staff with operational efficiencies, real-time data tracking and reporting.
Proactive Intervention and Dedicated Prevention
Phase two will prioritize investments in intervention initiatives that prevent crime and break the cycle of offending. In addition, Ontario will focus on crime prevention programs to provide meaningful alternatives for communities and youth at high-risk of involvement in gangs, gun violence and victimization. The province will:
- Establish justice centres in various locations throughout the province to coordinate law enforcement and criminal justice responses with health and social services by moving justice out of the traditional courtroom and into a community setting. These centres will integrate justice facilities with prevention and intervention supports to hold individuals accountable while connecting them with services that prevent crime and break the cycle of offending. Centres can include programs that disrupt gang recruitment and help to lead youth and young people away from a path that could lead to more serious crime. Working together with local communities, the province will begin with establishing justice centres in Toronto's downtown East and Northwest neighbourhoods, Kenora and London.
- Work with select school boards across the province through the Keeping Students in School Pilot Project to address the over-representation of some groups in suspension and expulsion data - including students from families living in poverty, students with disabilities, Indigenous, Black and other ethno-racial groups of students. The government will work with 14 schools across ten school boards to examine their current discipline practices and ensure they are fair, equitable, and not disproportionately impacting particular groups of students.
- Implement the Youth Violence Prevention and Resilience Program to address risk factors at the individual and community level, while fostering and strengthening social connections that reduce youth violence and victimization, and keep youth out of gangs. The province-wide program will support high-risk youth and young adults aged 15-29, and their families, with targeted prevention and resilience services.
- Launch the Indigenous Youth Prevention and Intervention Program to support Indigenous communities to deliver community-based programs to prevent Indigenous youth from being recruited by local gangs. In partnership with local First Nation Police, the program will address factors surrounding gang involvement by providing Indigenous youth with culturally-relevant programming.
- Implement the Gang Intervention and Exit Program for Indigenous Women to prevent exploitation, recruitment and further victimization of Indigenous women and girls. In addition to community outreach and education, the program will provide supports to victims of gang violence and provide an opportunity for healing.