New Ways of Working? Crime Prevention and Community Safety Within Ottawa's Community Development Framework

Title: New Ways of Working? Crime Prevention and Community Safety Within Ottawa's Community Development Framework
Authors: Bania, Melanie L.
Date: 2012
Abstract: Over the past few decades, there has been a shift in crime control discourses, from an almost exclusive focus on traditional criminal justice objectives and practices, to attention to ‘community’ and a range of strategies that seek to prevent crime and increase safety. Overall, evaluations of the community mobilization approach to crime prevention and safety conclude that these initiatives have generally demonstrated limited long-term impacts on ‘crime’ and safety at the local level. Through the ‘what works’ lens, the limits of the approach have typically been attributed to implementation challenges related to outreach and mobilization, and inadequate resourcing. Through a more critical lens, using studies on governmentality as a starting point, this study examines the mechanisms through which crime prevention and community safety became thinkable as sites of governance in Canada, and more specifically within the Community Development Framework (CDF) in Ottawa (ON). To this end, I conducted an ethnography using a triangulation of data collection methods, including extensive fieldwork and direct participant observation within the CDF. The findings of this ethnography describe in detail how the CDF emerged and unfolded (from 2008 to 2010) from a variety of perspectives. These findings show that the CDF encountered a number of common challenges associated with program implementation and community-based evaluation. However, the lack of progress made towards adhering to CDF principles and reaching CDF goals cannot be reduced to these failures alone. The CDF highlights the importance of locating the community approach to crime prevention within its wider socio-political context, and of paying attention to its numerous ‘messy actualities’. These include the dynamics and repercussions of: governing at a distance and of the dispersal of social control; the neoliberal creation and responsibilization of choice-makers; relations of power, knowledge and the nature of expertise; the messiness of the notion of ‘community’; bureaucratic imperatives and professional interests; the words versus deeds of community policing; and processes relevant to resistance within current arrangements.
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