Regina Anti-Gang Services (RAGS)
Gender: Mixed (male and female)
Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 1
Continuum of intervention: Tertiary crime prevention
Regina Anti-Gang Services (RAGS) was developed in 2007 in response to the high level of gang activity in the North Central neighbourhood of Regina. It offered support to gang-involved youth in one of the most deprived, gang-filled, and criminally active neighbourhoods in Canada.
RAGS integrated components from the Wraparound and the Circle of Courage® approaches as well as some elements from the Multisystemic Therapy (MST).Footnote1
RAGS was centered on conflict resolution; counselling and social work; leadership and youth development; skills training; and social emotional learning.
The main goals of the RAGS program are to:
- Help gang-involved youth leave their gangs safely;
- Increase youth’s attachment to the labour force, schools, and retraining; and
- Increase youth’s attachment to healthy adult role models.
The appropriate clientele for the RAGS program are gang-involved youth, primarily Aboriginal youth, and young adults between the ages of 16 and 30.
Participants can be referred by secondary referral sources, including the courts, the police, schools, and other community organizations serving high-risk youth, such as social service agencies, faith-based organizations, and youth agencies. Youth may be self-referred or referred by peers and gang-involved family members.
To participate in the program, youth must demonstrate major risk factors. For instance, youth must be current or former gang members or affiliated with gangs through their partners. Youth must also have strong social ties to gang life and friends or family members who are gang members. Youth may also participate if they have been involved in very serious crimes, (i.e., assault causing bodily harm).
The RAGS program consists of:
- Life skills programming for young men: Group training, education and skill-based learning on topics such as exiting gangs, violence, personal awareness, problem solving, healthy relationships, parenting and fathering, addictions, team building, empowerment, behaviour modification, and literacy;
- Circle keeper program for young women: Gender-specific life skills and traditional cultural training for women who are in a gang (or connected to one) to support their exit from the sex-trade and gangs through education;
- Intensive gang exit counselling: Individual, crisis, and family counselling sessions targeting specific goal areas, such as safe exit from gangs, parenting, self-esteem, and life skills development; and
- Outreach to schools and institutions: Engaging potential RAGS participants through schools, correctional centers, courts, and occasionally on the streets.
Some of the critical elements for the implementation of this program or initiative include the following:
- Organizational requirements: The lead organization must mobilize existing resources in order to meet the unique needs and demands of participating youth.
- Partnerships: In order to help high-risk youth, RAGS has developed an innovative working agreement with the Regina Police Gang Unit. RAGS has also developed excellent working relationships with many prisons in Saskatchewan and other Western Provinces. Positive relationships with parole and half-way houses have also been established.
- Training and technical assistance: Staff must be trained in the Wraparound approach and on how to maintain appropriate boundaries with young people. This is important for staff who have past experiences with gangs and who may also share the same social circles as participants.
- Risk assessment tools: Limited information on this topic.
- Materials & resources: Limited information on this topic.
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 RAGS program in Regina, Saskatchewan between 2008 and 2011. RAGS was implemented by the North Central Community Association (NCCA).
Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies
As part of Public Safety Canada’s funding, an outcome evaluation studyFootnote2 of the RAGS program was conducted in 2008-2011 by Totten and Dunn. A mixed-methods approach was used, combining both quantitative and qualitative methods. The quantitative methodology employed a non-randomized comparison group design, with treatment and comparison groups. The researchers used several instruments and data collection methods. Over 24 months, data was collected on five occasions, covering pre-, mid-term, post-, and follow-up measures. The follow-up measure was taken at 24 months, six months after participation in the program typically ended.
Results from the evaluation showed the following:
- There was a positive change (59% decrease) in beliefs about conflict in program participants six months into the program but this effect did not last. While no significant results were found at 12 and 18 months, trends showed a 41% decline in beliefs about conflicts at 12 months and a 63% decline at 18 months; and
- Gang affiliation declined for 46% of the participants at six months, 63% at 12 months, and 71% at 18 months. While no differences in gang affiliation were found between program participants and the comparison group, youth in the comparison group showed greater affiliation with gangs at six months.
For more information, refer to the National Crime Prevention Centre’s (2012) publication.
In 2011, the cost per youth involved in the RAGS program was approximately $8,290.20 (CAD) per year or $690.85 (CAD) per month (National Crime Prevention Centre, 2012).
National Crime Prevention Centre. (2012). Regina Anti-Gang Services. Evaluation Summary. Ottawa, ON: Public Safety Canada. Available from: http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/rgn-nt-gng/index-eng.aspx
Totten, M., & Dunn, S. (2011). Final Evaluation Report for the North Central Community Association Regina Anti-Gang Services Project. Final Evaluation Report. Submitted to the National Crime Prevention Centre, Public Safety Canada. Available from: http://www.nccaregina.ca/reports_studies/
For more information on this program, contact:
North Central Community Association
1264 Athol Street, 2nd Floor
Regina, Saskatchewan S4T 7V3
Record Updated On - 2023-02-22
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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