'Gut instinct is no good'

Considering recent violence and crime policy, Ralph Goodale praises the approach of Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.

In September of last year, the Saskatchewan government announced a policy entitled “Building Partnerships to Reduce Crime”. It’s a useful plan with a multi-faceted, community-based approach. Suppression (using the criminal law to deter crime) is just one of three pillars upon which this policy is based. The others are Intervention (working on things like substance abuse, education and employment to change behaviours) and Prevention (providing information, social supports and other activities to steer individuals-at-risk in productive directions).

In introducing the policy, Premier Wall cogently observed “…we won’t arrest our way out of this problem.”

John Geddes looks closer at some of the relevant numbers, while concerns are raised about cuts to border services.

In an op-ed for the Globe, James Sheptycki considers a number of theories to explain gun crime, but ultimately repeats—see here—his call for more research.

There is a demand for quick and easy solutions, and the solutions had better be cost-effective and inexpensive. There is impatience when the response from academic criminologists is for further research. But in the face of such complexity, and to test our understanding, Canadians need to demand evidence-based policymaking. Rationality and reason are required, as well as political will. Gut instinct is no good.

Look around the world and you will see the results of reacting with gut instinct instead of taking time for level-headed research and calm reflection. Despite, or perhaps because of, the current mood of crisis, it is time to step back and coolly assess the situation. Rigorous independent academic research is required. That would provide a strong foundation for evidence-based policy. Let’s hope.