Councillor Josh Matlow

Supporting Youth at-risk More Effective than Surveillance

August 23, 2019

Supporting Youth at-risk More Effective at Fighting Violent Crime than Ford-Tory Surveillance Announcement

CCTV has “no impact on levels of violent crime”


Toronto – Premier Doug Ford and Mayor John Tory’s announcement today that the province will give the Toronto Police Service $3 million to install CCTV cameras will not lead to a decrease in violent crime, according to multiple studies. Research shows that the most effective means of reducing gun violence is by providing youth at-risk with supports including job training, education assistance, and safe spaces to access recreation, counselling, and mentorship.

“Police enforcement is a critical component of addressing gun violence. However, study after study support the fact that rather than buying cameras to watch vulnerable young people it is more effective to look out for them before they take the wrong path,” said Josh Matlow, City Councillor for Toronto – St. Paul’s (Ward 12). “Supportive spaces that provide better options for vulnerable young people will support families, create safer communities, and save lives.”

The College of Policing in the UK, where CCTVs are more widely used, conducted an extensive literature review of more than 40 scholarly articles and found that “(CCTV) is more effective when directed at theft of and from vehicles, while it has no impact on violent crime”. Similarly, an article in the US-based, peer-reviewed Journal of Crime and Justice found that “findings offer modest support for CCTV as a deterrent against auto theft while demonstrating no effect on other crime types”

Experts cite inequality, poverty, systemic racism, and a lack of opportunity as primary factors influencing whether a teen picks up a gun or chooses a better path in life. The seminal Review of the Roots of Youth Violence report, and many other studies, have concluded that police enforcement is just one piece of the puzzle in curbing gun and gang activity amongst young people. The report identifies providing safe, inclusive spaces as an important, near-term measure that will curb youth violence

During the 2018 municipal election, Councillor Matlow proposed the addition of 20 new youth spaces, which would put almost every young person in Toronto within walking distance (2 km) of a safe and supportive environment for activities, homework help, and access to trained youth outreach workers. All 20 additional spaces could be implemented and run next year for under $3 million, less costly than the CCTV announcement today, according to a 2019 Budget Briefing Note prepared by City Staff.





Learn More:

College of Policing, UK (2013) The effects of CCTV on Crime

McMurtry, Roy & Curling, Alvin (2008) Review of the Roots of Youth Violence

Piza, Eric L. (2018) The crime prevention effect of CCTV in public places: a propensity score analysis Journal of Crime and Justice Volume 41, 2018 – Issue 1, pp 14-30

Youth Spaces proposal website from Councillor Matlow

Youth Spaces are:

Enhanced Youth Spaces (City Community Centres):

Supervised spaces that are open to youth 5-6 days a week. There are currently 10 in operation. These spaces have stuff like WiFi, TV, gaming consoles, foosball tables, pool tables, computers, recording studios, photography labs, and study spaces. Free programs include photography, barbering and hairstyling, yoga, DJing, and music recording.

Youth Hubs (Toronto Public Library):   

Safe space in the library for all youth, ages 13-19. There are currently 11 in operation. Youth can spend time doing homework with tutors, hanging out, playing board or video games, and participating in events, programs and workshops. Many of the activities make use of the technology that the Youth Hub owns, including laptops, digital cameras, DJ equipment, and Virtual Reality (VR) headsets. Activities include: Gaming, Homework Help, Employment resources, De-stressing activities, and special workshops such as financial literacy, poetry, writing, video editing, health and wellness, and dance.



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