New funding to counter violent extremism

The federal government will give Toronto $1.05 million over the next three years to strengthen an intervention program for people believed to be at high risk of committing crimes or becoming the victims of crime.

The funding, announced Sept. 6, will be used to expand Furthering Our Community by Uniting Services (FOCUS) Toronto. The collaborative prevention and intervention program is led by the Toronto Police Service, City of Toronto and United Way and involves local agencies whose goal is to reduce crime and improve community resiliency in the city.

The collaborative approach used by FOCUS Toronto is also known as a ‘situation table’ or ‘intervention table’ and is a regular meeting between law enforcement representatives and practitioners who work together to review cases of individuals at high risk of radicalization and coordinate interventions to remove them from that path.

“The funding provided to the Toronto Police Service through the Community Resilience Fund has allowed us to improve our countering violent extremism approach,” Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders says in a statement. “The most beneficial aspect of this funding is that it will enhance the ability of multiple agencies to identify individuals of elevated risk of offending and allow for referral to existing multidiscipline collaborative agencies city-wide in order to prevent and counter radicalization as early as possible.”

In addition to helping FOCUS Toronto receive, assess and process information on people at risk of being radicalized to violent extremism, the funding will contribute to better training for those who work directly with such individuals. “Intervention and prevention programming in our communities are critical to countering radicalization to violence,” Marco Mendicino, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities and Member of Parliament for Eglinton – Lawrence says in a statement.

“This investment in FOCUS Toronto will advance the important work of the Toronto Police Service in implementing a collaborative program that draws on the support, expertise and advice of practitioners and civil society to prevent this phenomenon.”

Mayor John Tory, MP Marco Mendicino and Toronto Police Service Chief Mark Saunders announce funding for countering violent extremism. Toronto Police Service photo.

 

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