Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police campaign comes to Toronto, Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Toronto - September is National Literacy Month and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) is targeting crime with literacy. Raising literacy rates in the community contributes to reducing crime and lowering re−offending.

The CACP’s Crime Prevention Committee launched their "Literacy and the Police in Canada" project in March 2007. The project aims to increase police awareness of literacy challenges faced by members of the community and encourage police involvement in community literacy initiatives. The CACP is developing learning materials to increase police effectiveness in communicating with those who come into contact with the law: witnesses, complainants, and suspects.

Since the spring, a CACP Project Team has been working closely with an Advisory Committee that includes police, literacy organizations, governments and plain−language experts. One of the first tasks is to hold focus groups with police, to obtain input on appropriate roles for the police to play, challenges they may face, and effective practices when dealing with literacy issues.

The first focus groups are being hosted by the Toronto Police Service on Wednesday, September 12, 2007. Sessions in Halifax, Vancouver and Thunder Bay will follow.  According to Statistics Canada, literacy is defined as the ability to understand and use printed information in daily activities. Research in North America tells us that criminal offenders have lower average literacy levels than the general population. Neighbourhoods with lower literacy levels have higher crime rates. Witnesses with low literacy need help to communicate effectively in giving a report or testifying. Literacy programs in prisons have resulted in positive outcomes (maintaining employment) and reduced rates of re−offending.