A new partnership between police and youth probation officers in Surrey, B.C., aims to keep troubled kids on the right track.
Car Yankee 30, also known as Y30, features an RCMP youth officer and a provincial youth probation worker who work together to reduce the number of young people involved in the criminal justice system and help them observe their curfews.
The team works with youth aged 12 to 18 years who are on probation so that they comply with their court-ordered conditions. Those orders often stem from assault, drug possession and robbery crimes.
"They're put on curfew for that stuff because they're seen as a risk to the community," says RCMP Cst. Glynton Brittain of Y30. "But we can offer them some information and a chance to make their lives easier down the road."
Failure to obey their court orders only prolongs their time in the judicial system. So since June, the Y30 team has been driving to areas frequented by troubled and homeless youth to reach out.
"Even if we see some kids hanging out on the side of the road, we might just pull over and say hi. But we're focused on prevention, deterrents, enforcement and education," says Brittain.
Another element of the youth team's mandate involves making sure young people and their parents, or other caregivers, are aware of the supports that exist in the community for navigating the youth court system.
Cpl. Ivan Lee, who is a member of the Surrey Youth Unit, says the Y30 team meets with community groups, schools and other youth organizations each week.
"Part of that is to continue developing relationships with all our programs, so if some issues did come up involving youth, those meetings might have created a better level of trust," says Lee.
The get-togethers also keep police informed of any new or cancelled programs. It's information that helps keep everyone more aware.
"Young people can get stigmatized pretty quickly when they're in the court system," says Lee. We want to give them the tools and information so they don't stay there."