Committee recommends midnight curfew for youth

Red Deer’s curfew should be moved one hour to midnight and concerted efforts made to identify troubled youth and find them the help they need, says a city committee.

Red Deer’s curfew should be moved one hour to midnight and concerted efforts made to identify troubled youth and find them the help they need, says a city committee.

Also recommended is that the curfew for youth under 16 be made part of the city’s community standards bylaw and that youth or their parents face potential fines if youngsters are caught breaking curfew.

TerryLee Ropchan, chairwoman of the Crime Prevention Advisory Committee was pleased with the recommendations, which go beyond the initial task of recommending whether the existing 1 a.m. curfew should be changed by two hours. Council went looking for advice from the committee after the Northwood Estates Neighbourhood Watch collected 651 signatures in support of an 11 p.m. curfew.

“I think that we touched on some very big topics and we were able to relate that to city council in a way that hopefully that can now look at the curfew bylaw in a different light,” said Ropchan following the meeting.

“I think with our recommendation we send a pretty clear picture that we want it to be an adjustment of the time, but we also want it to incorporate a little more into the behaviour part and the social services part.”

The committee recommends that the city look at following a model used to tackle domestic violence in the community when looking for ways to identify youths at risk, and to co-ordinate efforts from various community groups and other resources to steer youngsters in the right direction.

The recommendations were only arrived at following much debate. Not all committee members were convinced a curfew would be much help in controlling youngsters prone to trouble-making.

“Basically, there’s no research that says this is effective,” said Carolyn Brock. She stopped short of recommending the existing curfew — which police have said is little used — be dumped, but saw little need to change the time.

Brock questioned whether it was worth changing a curfew that would apply to all youngsters under 16 who are unaccompanied by an adult in a public place when only very few cause any trouble.

City councillor Lynne Mulder also had her doubts. The existing community standards bylaw already outlines what behaviour is expected from the residents, including those under 16.

“I’m not sure putting a curfew in it is going to be helpful.”

Mulder, Brock and committee member David Radcliffe voted to repeal the existing but were defeated in a 4-3 vote. The four in favour of a time change were split over whether an 11 p.m. or midnight curfew was best.

In the end, the committee voted 6-1 to support the midnight curfew along with the other recommendations. Brock said she voted against “on principle.”

pcowley@www.reddeeradvocate.com

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