KAWARTHA LAKES-The Kawartha Lakes Police Service has launched a new program in an effort to reduce the risk of people re-offending.
In partnership with the John Howard Society of Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton, the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Lindsay Crown Attorney’s Office, the Adult Pre-Charge Diversion Program is a new initiative geared towards supporting people who have been in conflict with the law to prevent “delinquent behaviours” and provide community supports to those who may be at risk of re-offending. Officials say the overall goal is avoiding continued involvement in the Justice system.
The John Howard Society says it believes that crime can be reduced and prevented through social and educational programs and the active involvement of an informed community.
“The hope is that we can prevent first time offenders from entering the criminal court system and for those who are repeat offenders, offer a different type of intervention to hopefully break the cycle of recidivism.” Police Chief Mark Mitchell told Kawartha 411 News.
Police say some residents are charged over and over again and those numbers increase the crime rate locally.
It is part of the Direct Accountability Program (DAP) which is an alternative to prosecution and a way to remove eligible offences from the formal court process. It allows for lower level, lower risk offences to be dealt with through the use of community-based sanctions to hold accused persons accountable and make amends for their offending behaviour according to officials.
“We have been in discussions with our local JHS about this since around the start of the year. Basically, if the criteria are met, an officer will have the option to divert an offender to this program instead of laying charges. If the individual completes the program, then the file is closed.” Chief Mitchell said.
Program Objectives and Outcomes:
- To intervene in a positive manner with the client, with the goal of encouraging harm reduction initiatives;
- To provide the opportunity for clients to avoid obtaining a criminal record while still being held accountable for their actions;
- To involve the client as an active participant in the diversion process through understanding the meaning behind the program;
- To encourage restitution or a letter of reflection to the victim(s) of the clients’ actions
Here are some of the offences that are eligible for the program:
- Theft Under
- Possession Under and Possession Over
- Mischief Under and Over
- Fraud Under and Fraud Over
- Take Motor Vehicle without Consent
- Causing a Disturbance
- Food, Travel, Accommodation Fraud
- Uttering Forged Document
- Possession of Identity Document
- Administration of Justice
Chief Mitchell says they will be monitoring the success of the program.
“Success will be measured by the number of individuals who are successfully kept out of the court system by successfully completing the JHS program and, hopefully, by lower rates of re-offending after participating in the program.”
Inspector Tom Hickey says the police service used the program for the first time on June 16th.