Province will invest $500,000 in anti-gang programming for youth in Surrey

Mike Farnworth

AS part of a strategy to address gang violence and make communities safer, the British Columbia government will invest $500,000 from civil forfeiture grants into anti-gang programming for youth in Surrey, Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, announced on Tuesday.

The funding will support the Surrey Wraparound (Wrap) program and eliminate the program’s current waitlist.

“As part of our commitment to tackle gangs and gun violence and create safer communities for people, we are delivering on our promise to increase support for Surrey Wrap by $500,000,” Farnworth said. “Wrap is a successful program that identifies at-risk youth to help keep them out of gangs in the first place. It should have stable and secure funding, not waitlists.”

Wrap is a collaborative partnership between the Surrey RCMP, the Surrey School District and the City of Surrey that connects youth who are at risk of joining gangs with outreach workers, teachers and police. Evaluation of the Wrap program has shown a significant decline (67%) in the negative police contacts of participants. There are currently 97 students in the program with 35 students on the waitlist. This funding will eliminate that waitlist.

“People want to feel safe where they live and know their child won’t be lost to the dead-end path of gang life,” Farnworth said. “It’s time to target gang violence in our neighbourhoods head-on. Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction.”

The government is also taking immediate action on gun and gang violence by:

  • working in partnership to implement the Surrey Accord;
  • reviewing viable recommendations stemming from the Illegal Firearms Task Force;
  • seeking to further support police efforts to disrupt the illegal drug supply chain, including pushing the federal government for increased penalties for drug dealers;
  • calling on the federal government to increase B.C.’s federal RCMP complement to bolster enforcement efforts;
  • pursuing B.C.’s share of the $100 million in funding the federal government announced as part of its platform for help with guns and gangs.

Quick Facts:

  • Surrey Wrap launched in 2009 and has supported more than 500 families and students to change their lives for the better. The program helps at-risk participants aged 11 to 17 to build positive lifestyles and self-worth through a stronger connection to their homes, schools and community.
  • It provides intensive supports including: counselling, recreational activities, mentoring, substance abuse and mental health support, life skills training, employment placement as well as intensive work with the families of youth involved with Wrap.
  • Youth participants are referred from various sources with the majority identified by school staff or the RCMP.
  • The Surrey Wrap project has received the bulk of its support from Public Safety Canada’s National Crime Prevention Strategy: $880,000 between 2008 and 2011, $500,000 from 2011 to 2013 and $3.5 million from 2015 to 2020.
  • B.C. has provided $535,000 to the Surrey Wrap program since 2009, mostly through civil forfeiture grants.
  • B.C.’s civil forfeiture program undermines the profit motive behind unlawful activity by going after tools and proceeds of crime. The vast majority of cases are linked to drug, gang and organized crime. In turn, proceeds sustain the program, benefit victims of crime and, through targeted grants, help to keep communities safe.
  • From 2006 until mid-2017, the Civil Forfeiture Office (CFO) has received more than 4,900 file referrals from law enforcement agencies. These have resulted in $31 million being re-invested in B.C. communities in the form of crime-prevention grants and compensation to eligible victims.
  • The Surrey Accord is the coming-together of all levels of government to focus on crime and public safety, mental health and addictions, homelessness and housing affordability.