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Quebec, City of Montreal to spend $2M on plan to encourage youth to leave life of crime

The Legault government and the City of Montreal will spend nearly $2 million over three years on a program aimed at convincing young people at risk of committing violent crimes to choose "another way of life."

The PIVOT (Prévenir et intervenir sur les violences observées sur le territoire) project will adopt an approach that uses both prevention and repression to encourage young people to leave the criminal life. It is inspired by a similar program in Glasgow, Scotland.

"Support will be offered to young people who have already committed a crime, to steer them towards a different lifestyle," said Public Security Minister François Bonnardel at a press conference in Montreal on Monday.

"We want to show them that there are other options than crime, that they can complete their studies, find a job or deal with an addiction."

On the other side of the coin, interventions will warn targeted teens and young adults about the consequences of crime.

"The second axis aims to clearly communicate the consequences of violence and apply them quickly in the event of an offence. What this means is that we're going to go out and meet the offenders, the young people, to tell them that they're being watched and that they're going to be arrested again and punished," Bonnardel said.

René-André Brisebois, a researcher at the Institut universitaire Jeunes en difficulté of the CIUSSS Centre-Sud-de l'Île-de-Montréal, whose organization participates in the program, believes that this approach has borne fruit where it has been used.

"In the places where it's been deployed, whether in the United States, Scotland or elsewhere in the world, we see, in terms of research, reductions of 33 per cent to 50 per cent in violent crime," Brisebois said.

The program will target a limited number of young people, Brisebois said. He mentions "around 30, maybe 40" people.

"If we can make a difference in the lives of one, two, three or four of these young people, it will make a huge difference," he added.

The intervention comes at a time when gun violence is a major concern in Montreal. This problem is exacerbated by the illegal sale of weapons, the manufacture of weapons using 3D printers, the glorification of weapons and the feeling among some young people that they are necessary to protect themselves from possible aggression.

The situation is improving, said Bonnardel, who pointed out that the number of violent crimes is dropping.

By the end of the summer, police authorities were reporting that crime was down 30 per cent this year in Montreal, while the number of firearm seizures had tripled, according to various media reports.

"It's a battle that hasn't been won, but we're making progress," the minister said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Sept. 18, 2023. Top Stories

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