Gang Prevention Strategy (GPS)

Program snapshot

Age group: Adolescence (12-17); Young adult (18-24)

Gender: Mixed (male and female)

Population served: Gang-involved (and/or at risk)

Topic: Gang and/or related criminal activities

Setting: Urban area; Community-based setting

Location: Ontario

Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 1

Continuum of intervention: Secondary crime prevention

Brief Description

The Gang Prevention Strategy (GPS) is a gang prevention program aimed at identifying youth at risk of gang involvement and providing them with treatment to reduce their risk factors and ultimately reduce the risk of gang attachment. The program was based on the Wraparound approachFootnote1 and was centered on assigning at-risk youth a personal “coach”, developing personalized plans of care, providing counselling, teaching coping skills and providing them with a variety of positive alternatives to gang activities.


The main goals of the GPS are to:

  • Increase awareness of consequences of gang involvement;
  • Increase motivation to participate in prosocial behaviours; and
  • Decrease risk factors that contribute to interest in gang activity.


The appropriate clientele for the GPS is youth aged 13 to 25 who are at risk of gang involvement.

Participants are referred through various organizations, a combination of outreach activities, and word-of-mouth. Recruitment efforts should enlist the support of partner organizations and should focus on locations where youth turn to fill their basic needs such as soup kitchens, drop-in centres, and homeless shelters.

To participate in the program, an individual must complete the Self Discovery Quiz (SDQ) administered to potential participants.

Core Components

The GPS is based on a Wraparound approach. It consists of:

  • A youth being assigned a coach, developing a case management plan, meeting with the coach for at least one hour per month for the first three months, and participating in at least one hour of programming activities each week for a defined three-month period; and
  • A number of events and programs/services are offered to address risk factors for youth, and include: advanced food services, anger management groups, day trips, DJ workshops, freestyle Fridays, gurlz night, LR evening program, LR weekend program, Notre Dame Mental Health Clinic, retreats, safety in the core – boxing or hapkido, why try group, and work crews.

Implementation Information

Some of the critical elements for the implementation of this program or initiative include the following:

  • Organizational requirements: The lead organization should have a strong and stable management team and must have solid skills in outreach, intake and assessment, case planning, program delivery and post-program follow-up.
  • Partnerships: Organizations should collaborate with agencies that have intervention programs for youth and address risk factors related to gang involvement. Working collaboratively with other front-line agencies helped the GPS coaches to promote the program, recruit at-risk youth and deliver activities.
  • Training and technical assistance: Staff must be trained in the Wraparound approach.
  • Risk assessment tools: Limited information on this topic.
  • Materials & resources: Software should be in place prior to the recruitment of youth for treatment in order to facilitate case management, referrals, assessments and client tracking. The staff should be adequately trained with the software prior to program launch.

International Endorsements

The most recognized classification systems of evidence-based crime prevention programs have classified this program or initiative as follows:

  • Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development: Not applicable.
  • Crime Solutions/OJJDP Model Program Guide: Not applicable.
  • SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices: Not applicable.
  • Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy: Not applicable.

Gathering Canadian Knowledge

Canadian Implementation Sites

Public Safety Canada’s National Crime Prevention Strategy provided funding to implement the GPS program in a community-based setting in Hamilton, Ontario between 2008 and 2011. The GPS program was implemented by Living Rock Ministries, a non-profit Christian outreach based in downtown Hamilton.

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

As part of Public Safety Canada’s funding, an outcome evaluation studyFootnote2 of the GPS program was conducted in 2008-2011 by R. A. Malatest & Associates Ltd. The GPS was evaluated over a three year period using a single group repeated measures design – comparing pre, post and follow-up surveys.

Results from this evaluation showed the following:

  • The GPS program resulted in significant reductions in gang involvement, delinquent behaviour and reliance on illegal sources of income. In addition, participants often developed strong relationships with coaches, and made positive life changes; and
  • Results from this evaluation should be interpreted with caution. In the absence of a comparison group, it is not possible to attribute impacts to treatment provided by the program.

For more information, refer to the National Crime Prevention Centre’s (2012) publication.

Cost Information

In 2011 it was estimated that the cost to replicate the GPS would be $8,035 (CAD) per youth involved (R.A. Malatest & Associates Ltd., 2012).


National Crime Prevention Centre. (2012). Gang Prevention Strategy. Evaluation Summary. Ottawa, ON: Public Safety Canada. Available from:  

R. A. Malatest & Associates Ltd. (2011). Gang Prevention Strategy (GPS) Program. Final Evaluation Report. Submitted to the National Crime Prevention Centre, Public Safety Canada (Unpublished report).


For more information on this program, contact:

Living Rock Ministries
30 Wilson Street
Hamilton, Ontario L8R 1C5
Telephone: (905) 528-7625

Record Entry Date - 2018-02-22
Record Updated On - 2018-04-23
  1. 1

    For more information on Wraparound, refer to the program descriptive sheet.

  2. 2

    A process evaluation study of the program was also conducted through Public Safety Canada’s funding. For more information, communicate with the Research Division, Public Safety Canada.

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