Multi-Sectoral Approaches for Crime Prevention Programs
What you need to know

Table of contents

Part I: Background

The National Crime Prevention Strategy (NCPS) provides a policy framework that guides the implementation of crime prevention interventions in Canada. In addition to developing policies and disseminating knowledge to Canadian communities, the NCPS also identifies specific funding priorities and provides multi-year funding to suitable crime prevention projects with the objective of developing and sharing knowledge of what works to prevent and reduce crime among priority populations.

The Crime Prevention Action Fund (CPAF) supports the NCPS by providing time-limited funding to assist communities and organizations with the development and implementation of evidence-based crime prevention initiatives. The main objectives of the CPAF are to support evidence-based models and promising practices that address known risk and protective factors to reduce reoffending among at-risk children and youth, as well as those at a high risk to reoffend; support the dissemination of knowledge and development of resources related to effective crime prevention practices; and support projects that explore ways to respond to known risk and protective factors.

2021 CPAF Call for Applications Priorities

The 2021 CPAF Call for Applications aims to support:

The Federal/Provincial/Territorial (FPT) Ministers’ National Action Plan on Crime Prevention Final Report in 2018 called for a more collaborative approach to the National Crime Prevention Strategy (NCPS)’s program delivery that incorporates multiple sectors working together toward shared community safety and well-being goals. In response, the 2021 CPAF Call for Applications will support the implementation of community-based, multi-sectoral interventions that aim to build resiliency and protective factors in priority populations, while reducing the impact of risk factors.

The  Call priorities demonstrate a focus on populations overrepresented in the Criminal Justice System (CJS) in alignment with other work undertaken across the federal government. This includes Heritage Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy and Anti-Racism Program which call for a focus on addressing barriers impacting racialized communities and Indigenous Peoples, as well as investments in interventions for youth at-risk. Moreover, the Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls  (MMIWG) Response which calls for a focus on addressing the needs of Indigenous communities, including their overrepresentation in the criminal justice system.

Part II: Multi-Sectoral and Community-Driven

Multi-sectoral in this context, refers to the deliberate and active collaboration and coordination between a stakeholder group/organization (i.e. government, Indigenous organizations, service providers) and other groups/organizations from multiple sectors (i.e. health, education, private sector, etc.) in order to develop a network of various services and supports that will address a variety of needs of each client. By engaging multiple sectors, partners can leverage knowledge, expertise, reach, and resources, and benefit from their combined and varied strengths as they work together and refer clients to one another toward a shared goal of providing youth with the services they need.

The ability to navigate through partners’ services and supports, and connect youth with appropriate interventions is the key element of a multi-sectoral project. In order to ensure that the individual needs of all youth are being met, a multi-sectoral intervention should implement a well-designed assessment and referral procedure, where youth can easily gain access to the supports and services offered by all the program partners.

Referral procedures, in the context of social services, come after a trained staff member develops a case management file with a tailored curriculum and social support plan for their client. Once a case management file is developed that outlines the needs of each client, including behavioral, emotional, mental health concerns and/ or other specialized services, the trained staff will then track service provision, refer and follow-up with their clients through the completion of the curriculum and social support plan. Referral procedures should be as unique as the communities where they operate, and must adhere to policies and regulations concerning youth records and information sharing specific to the context of the program being implemented.

Foundations of effective referral procedures typically include:

Community-driven refers to the mobilization of sectors and services that are located in and/or supported by the communities the priority population(s) belong to. Services should be informed by and responsive to the needs and realities of the communities where the clients live, work, learn, and play.

Part III: Priority Populations

In the last decade, there has been a 34% reduction in youth in the Criminal Justice System (CJS) -  this rate of decline was significantly higher for white boys and young men, while the proportion of girls in the CJS rose by 20%; the proportion of Indigenous youth rose by 26% ; Black male offenders in the CJS rose by 41%; Black girls and young women by 46%, and Indigenous girls and young women by 60% (Bélisle, 2019; Justice Canada, 2017; Miladinovic, 2019; John Howard Society, 2017).

Prioritizing Indigenous Youth

First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples are the youngest and fastest growing populations in Canada. Indigenous youth are overrepresented in both the child welfare system and Criminal Justice System. According to 2016 Census data, 7.7% of children aged 0-14 across the country are Indigenous, yet 52.2% of foster children in the same age group are Indigenous (Statistics Canada, 2017). Concerning the justice system, Indigenous youth (ages 12 to 17) make up 43% of youth admissions to correctional services, despite representing 8.8% of the youth population in Canada in 2018. Further, Indigenous women represent the fastest growing offender category under federal jurisdiction, representing over 40% of incarcerated women, with the largest increase over the last decade seen in Quebec (+219%), Manitoba (+139%), New Brunswick (+128%) and Saskatchewan (+106%) (Justice Canada, 2017). The cause for overrepresentation is multifaceted and complex. Societal variables, systemic variables, sentencing decisions, individual and family circumstances, and intergenerational trauma from residential schools as well as the ongoing disproportionate placement of Indigenous children in care outside of their families and communities are contributing factors, as they cause compounding traumatic effects at the individual, family and community levels  (Lockwood et al., 2018).

Prioritizing Black Youth

Black youth are overrepresented in the CJS. In 2016-17, Black inmates comprised 8.6% of the total federal incarcerated population despite representing 3.5% of the Canadian population (Annual Report, 2016-17).  In 2011, Black male youth represented 5% of boys in Ontario, but represented 24% of male youth admitted to jail in the province (Rankin et al., 2013). Further, Black male youth in Ontario are four times more likely to be incarcerated than their white counterparts (Kwok et al., 2017). In Nova Scotia, Black people are 2% of the population but 14% of the incarcerated population (The John Howard Society, 2017). Over 50% of the Black inmate population are under 30 years of age - while 31% of the general inmate population is 30 years of age and under. In 2016-2017, Black inmates were more likely to classified as maximum security (nearly one-fifth compared to 14% of the total inmate population) (Annual Report, 2016-17). An analysis of 10,000 arrests in Toronto showed that Black persons were 50% more likely to be taken to a police station for processing after arrest, and 100% more likely to be held overnight than were white persons, even after taking into account criminal history and age.  When given bail, Black persons had more conditions imposed. In the GTA - 42% of all Black students had been suspended at least once, compared with only 18% of white students and 18% of other racialized students (James et al., 2017). Studies published in 2000, 2015, and 2017 focused on the Toronto area indicate that Black youth are less optimistic about their chances of obtaining a university degree because of, among other things, the negative attitudes and limited expectations of academic potential of school professionals and teachers towards them – beginning in elementary school (Turcotte, 2020).

Multiple variables are considered to impact the overrepresentation of Black youth, including the lack of proper Black historical education in Canadian school systems, experiences of poverty, and the normalization of prison environments (Crichlow, 2014). Multiple studies have also found that Black youth are more likely to have encounters with police than other youth (Hayle et al., 2016; Meng et al. 2015), with many in this population reporting experiencing discrimination from police or the courts at some point in their life (Peirone et al., 2017). Overrepresentation is also present in the child welfare system, with the proportion of Black Canadian children admitted into care 2.2 times higher than that of the entire youth population, (Ontario Human Rights Commission, 2018).

Prioritizing Gender-Responsive Programming

Between 2012-2017, the proportion of girls in the CJS rose by 20%, with significantly higher increases amongst Indigenous and Black girls and young women (Bélisle, et al.). Actors in the juvenile justice system are likely to view Indigenous and Black girls in particular as delinquents—as social problems themselves rather than as young girls affected by social problems (Vitopoulos, 2016). Substance abuse, personal/emotional concerns, financial problems, education/employment, and family/marital issues have a particularly strong relevance to the risk of recidivism of women and girl (Public Safety Canada, 2020). Further LGBTQ2S+ youth are overrepresented in the homeless and foster care populations. Homeless LGBTQ youth are also more likely than heterosexual youth to have higher rates of mental health problems, drug use, sexual health risk and victimization, and suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (Rainbow Health Ontario et al., 2021). According to US data, LGBTQ youth are also more likely to be victimized at school and as a result experience greater school discipline, including detention, suspension and expulsion, as well as greater risk for involvement in the CJS as a result of school discipline and societal alienation LGBTQ2S+ youth are in higher need of mental health, sexual health and substance abuse services (Palmer & Greytak 2017; Rainbow Helath Ontario et al, 2021). There is evidence that some gender-responsive programs may not be sensitive to LGBTQ2S+ individuals. In a study, LGB girls and gender non-conforming individuals did not feel as understood or welcomed by facilitators, a finding that indicated a heightened need for more targeted LGBTQ2S+ programming (Public Safety Canada, 2020). Best practices for girls and 2SLGBTQ+ youth are trauma-informed within a multi-sectoral continuity of care model.

Prioritizing Trauma Informed Care

Trauma is a widespread, harmful and costly public health problem, that occurs as a result of an event or a set of circumstances involving violence, abuse, neglect, loss, disaster, war and/or other emotionally harmful experiences (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA], 2012). Often, trauma survivors that have experienced a traumatic event or set of circumstances at a younger age, struggle with difficulty regulating emotions such as anger, anxiety, sadness, and shame. Trauma, and post-traumatic-stress disorders are often linked to a range of other symptoms, including anger and increased aggression, anxiety, depression, mistrust of others, fear, alienation, low self-image, and self-harming behaviours (Robinson, Smith and Segal, 2021). Populations at risk of Justice-involvement, as well as populations that have previous involvement with the CJS, have higher rates of exposure to emotionally and psychologically traumatic events (Wallace, Conner & Dass-Brailsford 2011). A Canadian study on childhood abuse experience amongst the Canadian incarcerated population found that 65.7% of incarcerated women, and 35,5% of  incarcerated men have experienced childhood abuse (Bodkin, Pivnick, Bondy, 2019). Women have a two to three times higher risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) compared to men (Olff, 2017) . Further, women and 2SLGBTQ+ individuals are at an increased risk of re-traumatization due to higher rates of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and hate violence. Studies have found that women with a serious mental illness reported more childhood physical abuse (53 percent vs. 32 percent), childhood sexual abuse (60 percent vs. 37 percent), witnessing violence as children (77 percent vs. 60 percent), adult partner violence (75 percent vs. 60 percent), and adult sexual assaults (56 percent vs. 37 percent) (Wallace et al.). A program, organization, or system that is trauma-informed realizes the widespread impact of trauma and understands potential paths for recovery; recognizes the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients, families, staff, and others involved with the system; and responds by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices, and seeks to actively resist re-traumatization (SAMHSA, 214).

Part IV: Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic

In the context of the on-going and evolving challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, empirical research examining the impact on crime is limited, although some existing data shows that everyday life is becoming increasingly difficult for already vulnerable populations. The COVID-19 pandemic has created challenging conditions which increase the likelihood of family violence (violence against women and children); increase the likelihood of mental health challenges for young people and may aggravate the state of youth with pre-existing mental health conditions; increase the likelihood of hate-crime and online victimization. The increased likelihood for witnessing family violence, child maltreatment, experiencing poor mental health and living in poverty are understood as traumatic life experiences. Research identifies that youth who experience trauma show an increase in risk factors, such as poverty, lack of economic opportunity, family conflict, parental substance abuse, parental mental health problems (Gillis, 2020) and are more likely to have involvement in the CJS. As such, the specific context brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic should be taken into consideration when designing multi-sectoral direct intervention projects and research products.

Part V: Considerations for Developing a Strong Project

An effective and inclusive approach to crime prevention is multi-sectoral and best serves priority populations by integrating services that are specific to the lived realities of boys, girls and non-binary clients; informed about the prevalence, behavioral effects and management of trauma in clients; culturally competent, anti-racist and inclusive; and holistic in addressing risk factors, health needs and incorporating emotional and psychological components in relation to one another and not in isolation. The following components should be considered:

Assessment Tools

The use of assessment tools has increasingly been accepted as a key aspect of an effective crime prevention initiative (Savignac, 2016). Most assessment tools available fall into two main categories:

Successful assessment tools identify youth who are facing multiple risk factors associated with delinquency (i.e., at-risk youth) and measure the effect of these factors on their behaviours in order to implement interventions of an appropriate type and intensity (Savignac, 2016). Additionally, applicants are to aware of the challenges associated with the use of assessment tools, including the risk of stigmatization of an already vulnerable clientele, as well as potential errors in the interpretation of results (Savignac, 2016).

For a more detailed explanation of assessment tools, as well as a list of examples of assessment tools, please refer to Public Safety Canada’s “Tools to Identify and Assess the Risk of Offending Among Youth” (Savignac, 2016) at

Assessment of Local Crime Issues

An assessment of the problem is a critical step for planning interventions; conducting an assessment helps in the strategic planning of the project that is to be developed. Identify the crime issue including its history, the youth involved, the associated risk and protective factors for an integrated/holistic understanding of the problem. An integrated/holistic understanding of the crime issue may aid in identifying existing community organizations for potential partnerships.


Collaboration between partners is essential to the implementation and success of crime prevention initiatives. To be effective, partnerships should include representation from several groups such as: schools; social, health and mental health services agencies; local units of government; employment agencies; community residents; and other local agencies/organizations involved in housing, parks and recreation, economic development, faith-based organizations, etc. Additionally, the clarification of the role and responsibilities of each partner at each different phase of the implementation is important to ensure cohesion and participation.

Gender-Based prevention and Intervention Strategies

Key elements for effective gender-informed prevention and intervention strategies include:

Principle for a Trauma Informed Approach

Research identifies that youth who experience trauma are more likely to have increased risk for involvement in the Criminal Justice System. Traumatic life experiences include childhood maltreatment, poor mental health and living in poverty. The following outline effective principles for incorporating a trauma informed approach:

Culturally-Based Prevention and Intervention Strategies

Implementing a direct intervention crime prevention project tailored to the lived realities of the identified priority population is critical for meaningfully engaging with racialized and alienated communities. This includes ensuring services are:

Employing a Multidisciplinary Intervention Team

A multidisciplinary intervention team should be involved in project activities and delivering targeted interventions and services to participants. The multidisciplinary intervention team is composed of professionals from several sectors and may include: youth-serving and grassroots agencies, schools, employment centers, law enforcement, justice agencies (juvenile and adult), mental health, and others (e.g., faith-based organizations, recreational programs, housing, etc.). The main roles of this team include but are not limited to: 

Establishing Relationships with Families

Often, parents and siblings face challenges with being present for a youth who is at-risk of offending. In order to increase family participation in a project, the following practices have been identified: 

Annex A: Multi-Sectoral Project Examples

The following examples are intended to serve as an additional resource on multi-sectoral initiatives for applicants.

The Crime Prevention Inventory (CPI) is an additional resource that may be helpful in developing a multi-sectoral project. The CPI is a searchable database of crime prevention programs in Canada. The CPI allows users to search for programs funded under the NCPS based on keywords or a combination of several filters such as:

For more information visit the Crime Prevention Inventory on Public Safety Canada’s website at


Wraparound is an intensive, individualized care management program designed for youth with serious or complex emotional and/or behavioural problems. It is designed to prevent fragmentation and 'gaps' in the services often encountered by youth and their families. The Wraparound approach seeks to provide more extensive and proactive contact between the youth, his or her family, and other involved parties (e.g., court counsellor, social worker, etc.). Wraparound is focused on providing a continuum of services and support networks with case management coordination. Wraparound uses a variety of established interventions, including: skills training; cognitive problem solving skills; self-control strategies; family management skills training; and parent training.

For more information on the Wraparound model, please visit the Wrap Canada website at or refer to the Crime Prevention Inventory on Public Safety Canada’s website at and/or the Resource Guide to Wraparound available on the National Wraparound Initiative website at

Youth Violence Reduction Partnership (YVRP)

The Youth Violence Reduction Partnership (YVRP) – also known as the Philadelphia Youth Violence Reduction Partnership – is a program aimed at members of street gangs in police precincts with the highest homicide rates among young people. The program's main goals are to reduce violent crime (particularly homicide) committed by or against young people and to promote social reintegration.This program is a result of the close partnership between various public agencies (i.e., police, probation) and community organizations (i.e., street workers, religious organizations) working with the client group. Youth-serving organizations and criminal justice agencies collaborate to balance intensive supervision with comprehensive therapeutic support.

For more information on the YVRP model please visit the National Gang Center website  at or refer to the Crime Prevention Inventory on Public Safety Canada’s website at

The HUB Model / Situation Table

The Hub Model (also known as the Community Mobilization Prince Albert approach and Situation Tables in other jurisdictions) consists of a multi-agency team focused on addressing specific situations where the probability of experiencing harm is imminent (Public Safety Canada, 2018a). The team works collaboratively to develop immediate, coordinated and integrated responses by mobilizing existing resources with the intent of reducing risk in a timely manner, usually within 24 to 48 hours. This model is not a service delivery mechanism, but rather a way of utilizing and mobilizing the systems and resources already in place in different, unified, and dynamic ways to address specific situations of elevated risk, for which an integrated approach is required. The Hub Model / Situation Table should be considered as a general crime prevention / community safety and well-being approach.

To obtain more information about the hub model and the way it has been adapted and implemented in local Canadian communities, please refer to the Crime Prevention Inventory on Public Safety Canada’s website at

The Regina Intersectoral Partnership – TRiP

The Regina Intersectoral Partnerships (TRiP) is a three-component, multi-sector, collaborative and risk-driven initiative designed to improve community safety and well-being in Regina, Saskatchewan (Public Safety Canada, 2018b). Its three components include the 11 and Under Initiative (11UI), Twelve&up Initiative (twelve&up), and The Hub. One of the main objective of the TRiP initiative is to provides the most appropriate, culturally relevant supports and services to at-risk children, youth and families. Its collaborative approach increases awareness of need, reduces duplication of services and provides an efficient and effective use of resources.

For more information on the TRiP, please visit the TRiP’s website at and/or refer to the Crime Prevention Inventory on Public Safety Canada’s website at

Connections Program

The Connections Program provides targeted support services and interventions to students in grades 7 through 12 identified as being at risk of becoming involved with (or who are already involved in) the school discipline cycle and/or the criminal justice cycle, non-completion of school, and/or have poor connection to school and peers (Public Safety Canada, 2018c). The program connects students to a variety of services they might not otherwise access, including counseling, employment, positive recreational activity, and housing (Public Safety Canada, 2018c). The program also provides an opportunity for collaborative problem solving and planning with parents and other stakeholders.

For more information on the Connections Program, please refer to the Crime Prevention Inventory on Public Safety Canada’s website at

Armoury Youth Centre

The Armoury Youth Centre (AYC) was created to address the issue of youth homelessness and associated activities such as drug use, violence, theft, vandalism, gang activity and victimization (Public Safety Canada, 2018f). The AYC operates from 9am to 9pm, 7 days a week, 365 days a year serving youth aged 15-21. Youth coming to AYC, who are either homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless, are provided specialized programming, resources and referrals in response to the unique needs of the youth. AYC aims to be a one-stop shop where youth can get connected to the supports they need to succeed in life. AYC takes a harm reduction approach and works with youth to ensure that they stay safe in the community. The goal of the program staff is to complete an action plan with each youth that meets their specific needs.

For more information on the Armoury Youth Centre, please refer to the Crime Prevention Inventory on Public Safety Canada’s website at, or visit the Youth Empowerment and Support Services website at

First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum (FNMWC)

The First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum (FNMWC) was created by the Fist Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB), the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and the Indigenous mental health leaders from various First Nations non-government organizations.

The First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum (FNMWC) Framework is a coordinated and comprehensive approach to mental wellness programing, developed in order to begin addressing challenges to mental wellness and many gaps in the services and programs that are offered to First Nations communities (Health Canada and Assembly of First Nations [HCAFN], 2014). The FNMWC Framework identifies a continuum of services needed to promote mental wellness, enhances service coordination among the various services identified, supports culturally safe delivery of these services, and provides advice on policy and program changes to ameliorate First Nations mental wellness outcomes (HCAFN, 2014; Thunderbird Partnership Foundation, n.d.).

The FNMWC includes elements that support the health system, such as governance, research, workforce, development, change and risk management, self-determination, and performance measure (Thunderbird Partnership Foundation, n.d.). Service integration among federal, provincial and territorial programs, is central for its success.

The FNMWC Framework supports the communication and collaboration among major healthcare providers, other service providers, and jurisdictional partners to ensure the needs of First Nations people are met (HCAFN, 2014). Indeed, strategic implementation of the FNMWC depends on its capacity of establishing and making full use of relationships with and among provincial, territorial, and federal government departments.

For more information on the First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum, please refer to the Indigenous Service Canada website at or visit Thunderbird Partnership Foundations’ website at   


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