Charting a course to safe living collection

Various tools have been developed to support a structured procedure for planning the activities that are to be carried out in order to maintain or improve safety within a community. Some of these tools are designed to be used during a specific step in the procedure, while others can be used in several different steps or be applied to a particular problem.

The Charting a course to safe living collection includes the Safety Diagnosis Tool Kit for Local Communities. The Safety Diagnosis Handbook is the centrepiece of this tool kit and it comes with six methodology guides. The collection also includes other tools that can be used by communities to improve safety in a range of life settings (schools, parks, city blocks, neighbourhoods, towns and cities, etc.).

The structured procedure described in the guides uses the problem of violence and crime as an example. However, its application is universal and most of the guides can be adapted and used, in whole or in part, for other problems such as unintentional injury prevention.

Some of the tools include Word or Excel files that have been developed to facilitate the application of the proposed procedure. The use of these files is explained in the different tools.

  • August-29-12

    Promoting safety and preventing crime through a setting-oriented approach requires a structured procedure for planning the various activities to be carried out. The procedure involves mobilizing the population and intersectoral partners, making safety diagnoses and drawing up action plans. The Safety Diagnosis Tool Kit for Local Communities was prepared to assist with this procedure. It comprises several tools, including the Safety Diagnosis Handbook and six methodology guides. The document Turning Safety Diagnoses Into Action Plans: A Guide for Local Communities was prepared in addition to the tool kit, to facilitate the process of translating diagnoses into effective action plans.

    To make sound decisions as to what should be done to improve safety and prevent crime in a particular life setting, it is useful to have access to a safety diagnosis for the setting concerned. A rigorous safety diagnosis will enable you to identify the problems and the social and physical conditions that are likely to have an impact on the setting’s safety. This information will help the various stakeholders choose appropriate preventive action.

  • July-16-10

    In recent years, several tools based on a setting-oriented approach have been developed to support safety promotion and crime prevention initiatives. This approach advocates the use of a structured procedure for planning and implementing prevention measures in life settings. The procedure involves mobilizing the population and intersectoral partners, making safety diagnoses and preparing action plans. The present document, Turning Safety Diagnoses Into Action Plans: A Guide for Local Communities, is one of the tools that follows this setting-oriented approach. It is designed to assist people who are working to develop coherent, integrated action plans that propose feasible, acceptable and effective actions based on safety diagnoses.

    It is taken for granted in this tool that 1) local safety promotion and crime prevention initiatives aresupported by a cooperative mechanism, 2) the communities concerned are mobilized around the issues of safety promotion and crime prevention and 3) safety diagnoses have been completed. Therefore, the point of departure for the activities discussed in this guide is a list of safety problems that have been identified in a diagnosis and that, ideally, have been documented and validated with your partners and the target population.

  • August-29-12

    Promoting safety and preventing crime through a setting-oriented approach requires a structured procedure for planning the various activities to be carried out. The procedure involves mobilizing the population and intersectoral partners, making safety diagnoses and drawing up action plans. The Safety Diagnosis Tool Kit for Local Communities was prepared to assist with this procedure. It comprises several tools, including the Safety Diagnosis Handbook and six methodology guides. The document Turning Safety Diagnoses Into Action Plans: A Guide for Local Communities was prepared in addition to the tool kit, to facilitate the process of translating diagnoses into effective action plans.

    The present document, Guide to Analyzing Crime Using Official Statistics – 2nd edition, is one of the methodology guides included in the Safety Diagnosis Tool Kit for Local Communities. The goal of this guide is to enable local communities to use official crime statistics for making safety diagnoses.

    It should be noted that when a local community submits a request for crime statistics on its territory to the ministère de la Sécurité publique (MSP), the statistics are usually processed and analyzed before being sent to the community. Therefore, the purpose of this guide is not to equip you for doing your own analyses, but to help you better understand the results you obtain from the MSP, by explaining the various activities it carries out in order to prepare its report.

  • August-29-12

    Generally speaking, surveys are used to obtain three main types of information:

    • information on the characteristics of individuals, including their personal characteristics (age, marital status, level of education, etc.), behaviour (amount of time spent doing certain activities, etc.) and living environment (workplace, housing, etc.);
    • information on the opinions of individuals (how safe or unsafe they feel, what they think about certain facts, ideas, programs or events, etc.);
    • information on their past personal experiences (victimization, etc.).

    The data gathered during a survey can be grouped and analyzed to detect trends or associations, such as whether certain groups within a population (e.g. the members of a particular age group, men or women) or people in certain areas share a particular opinion to a greater extent than other groups or people do.

    Surveys conducted as part of a safety diagnosis are aimed at painting a portrait of the crime and safety problems experienced or perceived by the population in a particular life setting. Their objective may be to develop a general portrait of safety in that setting or to study in greater depth issues or problems already identified in the setting by other data collection methods.

  • August-29-12

    To do a safety diagnosis for a particular life setting, you have to get to know the setting. You will thus obtain a good understanding of its specific characteristics, as well a frame of reference for data collection activities. The present guide describes the main steps involved in developing a life setting’s general portrait.

    Although many parameters can be used to characterize a life setting, some warrant special attention in a process aimed at improving safety or preventing crime; for example, the setting’s geographic, human and economic characteristics and some of its physical characteristics pertaining to housing. Gaining insight into these characteristics will enable you to:

  • August-29-12

    In making safety diagnoses, it is sometimes useful to estimate or quantify certain behaviours or environmental features through direct observation of life settings. This observation method makes it possible to gather and analyze information on a series of problem safety situations related to the characteristics or behaviour of individuals (incivility) or to certain characteristics of the physical environment (disorder). Generally speaking, it requires the use of an observation log for entering information on the safety situations under study.

    Even though it is difficult to foresee all of the problem safety situations that can arise in life settings, we have singled out a certain number on the basis of the scientific literature. All of these situations10 are included in the observation log proposed in Appendix 4:

  • August-29-12

    A focus group is a group discussion led by a facilitator. Participants are asked to share their thoughts on a particular topic, based on their personal opinions and experience. They are also encouraged to react to the views expressed by other participants and to say where they stand in relation to those views.

    In the model proposed in this guide, focus group participants are selected on the basis of criteria that ensure the life setting under study is well represented. This approach guarantees that the groups provide a wide range of viewpoints and perceptions, and can thus help to shed light on the different opinions and degree of consensus that exist on a given topic, such as the feeling of safety in a regional county municipality (RCM) or a municipality. In safety diagnoses, focus groups are used primarily to gather the opinions and perceptions of a population about the following safety-related topics: the safety of a particular life setting, the feeling of safety, and problems that cause concern, be they disorder, incivility, crime or victimization. Safety diagnosis focus groups can also be used to discuss the quality of public services. Several focus group sessions may be needed to enable all potential participants to take part in the discussions. It may be a good idea to get in touch with them through local organizations.

    Main characteristics of focus groups held within the context of safety diagnoses

    Objectives

  • August-29-12

    Like discussion groups, direct observation and literature reviews, semi-structured interviews can be used to gather qualitative information. Interviews of this type are suited to working with small samples and are effective for studying specific situations or for supplementing and validating information derived from other sources used for making safety diagnoses. In addition, since they provide access to perceptions and opinions, they are useful for gaining insight into problems that are not perceptible immediately or are more difficult to observe, but that nonetheless cause concern in certain areas or in certain segments of the population.

    During safety diagnoses, semi-structured interviews should be used to explore crime and safety problems perceived by representatives of the population, safety experts or other key informants. In planning the interviews, it is essential to take into account decisions about your vision and objectives, the life setting under study, the target population and the topics to be discussed. We suggest that the interviews focus on the following topics in particular: crime and victimization, disorder and incivility (nuisances), the perception of safety or the feeling of safety and the assessment of public services.