The province is taking steps to keep families and communities safer by keeping students in school, funding local crime prevention initiatives and continuing support for police. Minister of Justice Ross Landry outlined today, March 28, the province’s crime prevention plans for 2012-13 at the Fourth Annual Crime Prevention Symposium. “We all want our communities to be safe places to live and raise families,” said Mr. Landry. “Today I shared some of the steps we’ll take to tackle crime prevention in the coming year. We will maintain programs that work, like our Lighthouses Program, introduce new initiatives and support our community and police partners in their important work on the frontlines.” One of the new initiatives is a partnership with Dalhousie University and Halifax Regional Police to launch the first restorative program for university students in the country. The program will be an alternative for students in conflict with the law, and for student conduct issues on campus or in the community. Students will have a chance to accept responsibility for their actions and the impact on others and the community. “This is a very exciting opportunity for Dalhousie,” said Dalhousie president Tom Traves. “I’m proud we’re taking a leadership role in such an innovative program, one that will improve student life, contribute to the academic and social success of our students, improve university/community relations and develop leadership and conflict resolution skills of students, faculty and staff.” A restorative approach will also be developed for the public school system, through the Kids and Learning First Plan. The departments of Justice and Education will build the tools and resources school administrators and teachers will need. Several high schools have piloted this approach since 2008 and are reporting fewer suspensions and lost teaching days because of classroom disruptions. Other plans to make communities safer will focus on working with, and supporting, community partners. In 2011, Lighthouses Program community partners helped 1,200 at-risk youth connect with their communities through a range of programs such as teen centres, art projects and boat building. This year, the province will consider engaging other partners and developing a stable four-year funding model for the program. Partnerships will be formed in housing, health, education, employment, recreation and social services to help ensure successful reintegration of offenders into communities. Programs will include a pilot parenting program and exploring options for safe, affordable housing. Support will also continue for police, corrections, courts and the justice system to hold offenders accountable for their actions. “I have long said that police alone cannot effectively address crime,” said Halifax Regional Police Chief Frank Beazley. “We appreciate the continued support from the province and look forward to working with all the partners in the public safety equation to find new, innovative ways to address the root causes of crime while we continue to target those people we know are putting our citizens at risk.” The province will continue to invest $47-million annually in direct policing, which includes the Additional Officer Program that puts 176 additional resources in communities across the province, as well as centralized services such as major crime investigators and emergency response units. For more information, visit www.gov.ns.ca/just.