The Saskatchewan NDP is calling on the provincial government to address the rising issue of gang violence by working with community-based organizations on the front lines of this issue. Shane Partridge of STR8 UP, a Saskatoon-based non-profit organization that helps people leave gangs, has travelled to the Legislature today seeking a commitment from the government to implement a provincial gang strategy along the lines of the one STR8 UP outlined in their Provincial Gang Strategy Phase 2 Report, released this month.
“Saskatchewan has the highest number of youth gang members per capita in the country, alarming rates of violent crime in both rural and urban areas, and a provincial government that seems not to care about how much their inaction on rehabilitation, addictions, and supports for youth is fueling the crisis,” said NDP Justice Critic Nicole Sarauer.
The STR8 UP strategy is based on over a year of consultations in 67 communities across Saskatchewan. Three overarching points emerged:
- The effects of gangs and related criminal activity are felt throughout most of Saskatchewan,
- The underlying causes must be addressed, and
- Community-based prevention and intervention gang strategies are necessary to be effective for long term, lasting solutions for community safety.
“We’ve heard loud and clear from all across the province that we need a province-wide gang strategy rooted in prevention and intervention if we’re going to get ahead of this issue,” said Partridge, a program coordinator at STR8 UP. “There’s a huge opportunity for the provincial government to lead the way, but the response has to go beyond simply pouring more money into policing. We’ve got a prison-to-gang pipeline in this province, and more policing of marginalized communities just isn’t going to fix the problem.”