KAWARTHA LAKES- The Kawartha Lakes Police Service has been using the Situation Table to assess people in the community who are at acutely elevated risk of harm to themselves or others since 2015.
The Situation Table is a collaboration with a number of other local community agencies and brings them together to help people suffering from addiction, precarious housing, victims of violence and more.
“The biggest spinoff of the creation of the table was the collaboration between community agencies who never talked to each other before,” Inspector Tom Hickey told the Police Services Board at its last meeting. “We’ve had a number of success stories in our community and what it really did for me was bringing probably in excess of 25 different agencies together at the same table to deal with those acute problems that are being experienced by people. What you will notice in the stats year to year is there’s been a decline in the number of people being brought forward to the table. There are two ways to look at that. One is we aren’t having any more problems in our community but that’s obviously not accurate but the other way to look at it is its the success of the table that now a lot of these situations are being headed off at the pass.”
The data from the Situation Table is provided to the province which inputs it into a yearly report called the Risk Driven Tracking Database.(RTD) The 2022 Annual Report was recently presented to the Police Services Board. According to the report, there are 53 sites using programs similar to The Sutuation Table with 2,200 discussions taking place over the year. Of those referred to situation tables, 96% met the threshold of acutely elevated risk and 75% resulted in overall risk being lowered.
According to the data collected the top three risk categories in Ontario are mental health, criminal involvement and physical health. The most vulnerable age group is 30-39 years. For our region, the top three risk categories are mental health, anti-social/negative behaviour and basic needs. In the most vulnerable 30-39-year-old age group in our region, the top three risk factors are mental health, criminal involvement and drugs.
The top three protective categories across Ontario are housing and neighbourhood, family support and financial security/employment according to the data. In our region, it’s housing, family support and education.
The study is also able to flag certain behaviours and situations which increase the likelihood of needing support. The top flag was an increase in an escalation of negative behaviour, a risk of losing housing, homelessness and social isolation to name a few.
Chief Mark Mitchell says the thing that stood out to him was that mental health is the number one risk factor across all regions.
“If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this it’s that the prevalence of mental health and the overlap into all of those other areas as we look at it,” Mitchell told the board. “The takeaway from that is number one, we need to make sure our mental health systems are properly funded but two, do we need to look at the way mental health services are provided and the systems that are in place? This is system-wide and I think that is the fundamental question. It’s not really a question for me to answer but it’s certainly a question for me to ask.”