Curfew debated

Red Deer’s Crime Prevention Advisory Committee has delayed recommending a stricter youth curfew in favour of looking deeper into crime prevention.

Red Deer’s Crime Prevention Advisory Committee has delayed recommending a stricter youth curfew in favour of looking deeper into crime prevention.

City council requested a recommendation from the committee after Northwood Estates Neighbourhood Watch collected 651 signatures to change the curfew to 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. from 1 to 6 a.m.

Some Northwood Estates residents were terrorized by youth last year and want an earlier curfew to give RCMP more powers to get youth off city streets.

Under the current bylaw, youth under 16 cannot be in a public place during the curfew unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. Exceptions include youth who are working, volunteering or returning from an organized sporting event.

On Tuesday, the committee decided to seek more information into how other communities are implementing curfew bylaws, how the bylaw can be enforced, and ways to prevent youth crime.

“We’re not opposed to (the 11 p.m. curfew). We just need a bigger picture,” said committee member and city councillor Lynn Mulder.

There’s more to it than just telling youth they have to go home, said member David Radcliff.

Crystal Smith, co-chair of the Northwood Estates Neighbourhood Watch committee, said she was encouraged by discussion that included expanding the recreation options for youth in the city’s north end.

“(Youth) do what they can here. They cause trouble. They keep themselves entertained. Having places where they can go will definitely help with them to not be out that late,” Smith said.

In the meantime, local Neighbourhood Watch has already reduced crime in the area.

“The vandalism has gone down quite a bit. We don’t have the north side gang in our trailer park anymore. They are gone because all of us neighbours around there, we watch out for each other.”

RCMP Sup. Brian Simpson said the curfew bylaw has been used only twice in the last three years because there are other ways to deal with youth behaviour, like using the Criminal Code or the Liquor Act.

“We have it as a tool and it is used as a tool for enforcement when necessary, when the situation identifies itself. It’s a balance of all the tools we have and the particular issue we’re dealing with at that point in time,” Simpson said. Most youth in the city are also “very, very good,” he said.

“We get a lot of compliance. When they are asked or told to go home they do.”

The Crime Prevention Advisory Committee will discuss the curfew on Sept. 10 and will make a recommendation to city council at its Oct. 13 meeting.

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