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Model advances public safety, connects youth to services in New Westminster

April 18, 2024 at 1:29 pm  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

Youth in New Westminster who are at risk of harm or victimization are benefiting from a collaborative approach to complex social challenges.

Safe Community Situation Tables bring together front-line workers from the public safety, health and social-service sectors to identify at-risk youth and rapidly connect them to services and supports they need before they experience a negative or traumatic event.

“Safe Community Situation Tables empower agencies to work together to provide holistic supports to young people and lower the risk of potential violence or reoffending,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “By combining front-line workers’ expertise, the tables not only address public-safety issues, they help create pathways to success and fulfilment for every young person in this community. Together, we’re building a future where every youth feels seen, supported and empowered to thrive.”

New Westminster is one of 36 communities with Safe Community Situation Tables operating. The New Westminster table launched in March 2024 and is comprised of 18 community agencies, including public safety, education, health care and social services. The partners meet on a weekly basis to address issues pertaining to youth in their community who may be facing multiple risks that will result in harm to themselves, others or the community.

“Accessing co-ordinated care is a hurdle for too many of our youth leading to missed opportunities for support,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Seamless connection to the right resources at the right time is key to hope and brighter futures, and situation tables bring partners together to ensure no young person is overlooked.”

Safe Community Situation Tables provide a structured, collaborative approach to managing complex or urgent circumstances by bringing together key groups and using systematic processes to mitigate risk and develop plans to respond more effectively and efficiently to the needs of each individual. Furthermore, aggregate data analysis helps policy-makers assess gaps and risks in their local communities.

The tables are considered an effective way to improve community safety and well-being by enabling community front-line workers to:

  • proactively identify risks through real-time information sharing;
  • reduce long-term demand on emergency and police resources;
  • leverage and co-ordinate existing community assets and relationships between health supports, victim services, and culturally safe support and services;
  • plan and deliver collaborative interventions before an incident occurs; and
  • reduce increased risk in people’s lives.

The Province is supporting New Westminster with a $50,000 grant to assist with implementation. Since 2018, more than $3 million has been provided in grant funding to B.C. regions and communities to facilitate local Safe Community Situation Tables, Indigenous intervention circles and other related initiatives. There are 44 funded situation tables and intervention circles in B.C. Thirty-six of these operational while the other eight are under implementation.

Safe Community Situation Tables are advancing the Safer Communities Action Plan’s goal of creating safe, healthy communities for everyone. The tables build on the programs, services and initiatives the Province has undertaken or implemented to strengthen enforcement to break the cycle of violence and crime, and to strengthen services to keep communities safe and healthy.

Quotes:

Patrick Johnstone, mayor, New Westminster

“The City of New Westminster is committed to supporting youth in the community, especially young people experiencing elevated levels of risk. We’re proud to work with all levels of government and community partners to support the situation table. The newly created table is instrumental to help advance community safety and well-being in New Westminster.”

Barbara Coates, executive director, Dan’s Legacy Foundation

“Dan’s Legacy strongly supports this collaborative approach to providing services to at-risk youth in the community and sees first-hand the positive outcomes for the youth when these services are streamlined and integrated. Our outreach supervisor brings best practices knowledge to counselling and wraparound support services to the situation table, linking youth from participating agencies to Dan’s Legacy’s programs and vice versa.”

Learn More:

For more information about Safe Community Situation Tables, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/justice/criminal-justice/policing-in-bc/collaborative-public-safety-program/situation-tables

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