Thank you very much. I'm going to speak in English, but I can answer questions in both languages.
I should say right at the start that except for Jean-Pierre, the rest of us are just ink-stained journalists. I don't have a badge. I don't have a law degree. All I do is I ask questions. But we do have a passport that gives us I think a unique perspective, myself and my other journalistic colleagues. We have had the opportunity to not only of course speak to police officers, but because we don't carry a badge, police officers will often tell us things that they won't tell you or won't tell their own bosses. Because I don't belong to a particular organization, RCMP people will tell me things, Vancouver police will tell me things, Montreal police will tell me things. In other words, they'll be more frank with us than they will often be among themselves. Plus of course I've had the opportunity to interview Hells Angels' members, leaders, informants, people under witness protection, victims. The advantage we have is our passport gives us an ability to go places you can't go, and even the police can't go. I hope maybe we can contribute to some of your understanding.
What I actually wanted to focus on, and I'll leave some of the specifics of organized crime to some of my colleagues, is the whole importance of image and perception. It may sound like a strange focus, but while the human cost of crime is very real if you look at the bodies we had here in Montreal, the continuing gang violence in Vancouver, the attacks in Winnipeg, much of the fight against organized crime I think is about image and perception. Organized crime is strong because of its ability to strike terror, and the response has to be strong in the same way, by striking back an image of resilience.
Let me deal with three quick issues about that.
First of all, there's our image abroad. Canada has a very strong image as a kind of a peaceful, law and order country, except when it comes to organized crime. In the last few weeks I've been interviewed by BBC, Australian TV, American papers; they're catching on to the fact that Canada is in many ways, even though our homicide or murder rate is quite low, often seen internationally as a big centre of organized crime, notably because of the Hells Angels, but because of other gangs as well.
Then look at the public's mind. What's the public's perception of organized crime? I think one of the problems, and to some degree the media is responsible for this, is that usually organized crime is ignored in the headlines. What concerns the public quite rightly is when a girl gets kidnapped or when there's a bank robbery. In other words, you don't see headlines in the paper that say a thousand kilos of coke arrived safely today in the ports of Montreal, which goes on every day. Organized crime, because it is under the radar, most of the time--except right now in Montreal's election--doesn't make it into the newspapers, so the public is not largely concerned about organized crime. They don't see the connection between organized crime and the daily attacks, the drug dealers, the B and Es, the break-and-enters. That's a problem, the public's perception of organized crime.
Finally, I want to briefly mention, on this issue of the importance of image, how the bad guys look at it. I have talked to enough Hells Angels leaders and other criminals, and obviously for them money and the terror they strike is important, but you'd be surprised how important the question of power and image also is. It is crucial. The “death head” patch the Hells Angels wear was recognized in Canada's courts of law in the first successful anti-gang prosecution we had in Ontario. It has been recognized as a weapon. The patch itself, the symbol, the image, was seen as enough of a weapon so that when two Hells Angels, with a third person, went to try to extort a man, they were convicted on Canada's anti-gang legislation with Madam Michelle Fuerst. She described the jacket they were wearing as the weapon of intimidation, because they didn't have anything. They didn't have a gun. It was the image of the Hells Angels that was the weapon. That's what's so important to understand about organized crime: it's the ability to strike terror just because of an image.
The second point, then, is based on that to some degree: how do we fight organized crime? One of the things I want to address is the importance of understanding the adjective, that it's “organized”. Everybody understands that it's crime, but it's important to understand that it's “organized crime”. Police too frequently are not. I was talking to Joe Comartin just before, and I'm sure you are aware of some of the sad costs of some of the police infighting across the country. We have stories--Michel and others can tell you stories--of huge fighting between the SQ, the Montreal police, and the RCMP. In Vancouver many cases were completely lost because of struggles and competition between the police.
After several years of covering this, I've come to the conclusion that there are not a thousand and one ways to take on organized crime, there's only one. There's only one way, and that's infiltration and intelligence. Occasionally you'll get a Hells Angels guy who forgets his gun in his carry-on briefcase in Vancouver, but short of that, the only successful prosecutions we've had were because of infiltration and intelligence. Infiltration can be agents, spies, wiretaps....
You have to gather the intelligence, and you can't do that unless you have organized strike forces, unless you have police who are specially trained. It can't just be homicide cops. They don't send homicide cops to deal with domestic abuse, you don't send rape counselling police to deal with bank robberies, and you can't send regular cops to deal with organized crime. You need specialized squads.
Where we have specialized squads, as we have here in Montreal, or units like the BEU--the biker enforcement unit in Ontario--or some of the groups that they had in Vancouver, we have successes, but when they dismantle those groups or when they don't bring everybody together, we don't get successful prosecutions.
You absolutely need specialized strike forces, police that are trained, but you also need specialized prosecutors. Quebec led the example, and they sent their prosecutors across the country, because what was happening in the rest of the country was that although they had finally set up specialized squads that were doing good investigations, they were doing things like dumping 80 boxes of their investigation onto some hapless prosecutor who had no training in organized crime, as one of the stories in The Globe and Mail pointed out. Only when they set up specialized bureaus of prosecutors who understood organized crime could they take it on. You need specialized strike squads of police and of prosecutors.
The last thing I want to talk about is the long but sometimes weak arm of the law. First, let's look at the organized crime law, what we call the gang law. There have been quite a few defeats recently in court, as I'm sure you're aware, especially in British Columbia. Operation Pandora, which was a very good investigation, so far has not scored major successes in courts.
It's clear that the anti-gang law is complicated and cumbersome. I don't want to go into details about some possible reforms. We could talk about that later, although one of the things the police are looking at is the whole idea of simpler targets. In other words, we'll see what happens with Quebec. As you know, they've charged over 100 Hells Angels. That might be a little unmanageable. Is there a way to go after simpler targets?
The point I want to raise briefly here about the gang law goes back to my point about image. Sure, it's important to convict these guys and send them to jail if they're guilty, but the very act of prosecuting them and forcing them to go trial, even if the trials don't often work, goes to their image. It's the image that's important.
First of all, it disrupts them terribly. In the two or three years that the Hells Angels were recently facing immense prosecution in Vancouver, their activity declined. Unfortunately it led to a rise in street gangs, but the Hells Angels were paralyzed by that. In Quebec we're seeing the same thing.
The point I'm trying to make is, sure, you want trials to be successful, but the very act of prosecuting them and going after them is important. It goes back to the image. It's telling organized crime, “You are not impregnable. We can take you down.” It's very important to keep that point about image. The one thing the Hells Angels in particular hate more than anything else is being prosecuted under Canada's anti-gang law.
Second, let's be creative and think outside the box. We all know about the anti-gang trials, but you've got to look at some creative ways some jurisdictions are going. Saskatchewan has an anti-patch law, and so do many other jurisdictions. In other words, you can't wear your gang colours in a restaurant. It's actually being appealed by the gangs, but it's a great way of using municipal or provincial laws to try to curb the activities of gangs.
Manitoba and other jurisdictions have anti-bunker laws, preventing you from turning your clubhouse into a fortress. Vancouver has a great program going on. There's a private trespass law in Canada, so the bar owners and restaurants sign up ahead of time with police, saying they agree they don't want known members of organized crime in their restaurants, and sometimes they list the names of the gangs or the names of individuals. Then if the police walk in and see a known Hells Angels member or other gang member, they can say “You have to leave”, and the guy has to leave because it's a private restaurant and there's a private trespass law.
In fact one Quebec gang member was arrested because he was sitting there at the bar, as he does in Montreal. The cop came over and said “You have to leave”, and he said, “What are you talking about?” He said “We have a private trespass law”. The Hells Angels guy did not believe him because it doesn't exist in Montreal, and he was arrested.
It does exist in Vancouver, so the HA can't party in downtown Vancouver. It's a simple law, not changing anything that exists, and it's working well. So think outside the box.
Finally, rely on the courage of ordinary people. I've had the honour to meet some pretty brave people.
We all know of Danny Desrochers, the 11-year-old boy who was killed. His mom, who sadly passed away, contributed to the passing of the anti-gang laws by being so active and outspoken. I met a Quebec City bus driver who literally had the neighbours from hell. He woke up one day and found a Hells Angels bunker had been set up right next to him in Saint-Nicolas, across the street from Quebec City. He organized a circle of neighbours and protested against the bunker, and they eventually got it closed down.
Those are my basic conclusions. Fighting organized crime is like fighting bad weeds: they're going to keep coming back. You don't pave over the garden; you simply keep weeding and weeding the garden. It's important to send a message to communities that we don't want them in our neighbourhoods, and here are different ways we can fight.
It was 320 including about 15 Hells Angels. That took 15 years. In the spring, they continued the police investigations and charged all the members of the Hells Angels in Quebec, except two. Those two weren't charged because, at the time of the biker war, they were among those that the Hells Angels' enemies wanted to kill. So they were eventual victims. When the biker war was over in 2000, previous enemies became members of the Hells Angels. That's how the war ended.
Today, if we want to put more people in prison, we're realizing that more contracts could well be awarded to the mafia. We've recently seen, in all the debates in Quebec, that considerable collusion and corruption have been involved in the granting of public contracts. That world is hard to hit because it consists of a small group of individuals who work among themselves and engage in conspiracies. There aren't really a lot of them, and few police officers know the situation. By wanting to build new prisons and put more people in them, there is a risk we will help organized crime make even more profits rather than hurt it.
Operation Colisée clearly illustrates the problem involved in conducting effective police investigations. That investigation into the Montreal mafia was conducted by the RCMP over a number of years. Approximately $55 million was invested in the main investigation and preliminary investigations. A lot of individuals were charged under the antigang measures of the Criminal Code, but the head of the mafia was released from prison two days after being convicted. He was supposed to be at death's door, but he left prison at a jog. All the others were given relatively minor sentences. A little money was seized. The antigang provisions of the Criminal Code were used by criminal lawyers to negotiate sentences and, in particular, to avoid the seizure of buildings and residences. Ultimately, the overall impact that that $55 million investigation had on organized crime was very minor.
It was said—that was in 2003, I believe—that the mafia had been decapitated by the RCMP. However, drug trafficking didn't decline. Last spring, the Hells Angels were put in prison, but 24 of them are still at large. Drug prices haven't risen in Montreal, in Quebec in general or within Canada. The criminals will be released from prison after serving one-sixth of their sentence. It's thought that this isn't a serious crime. The corrections people allow a criminal convicted of drug trafficking to be released after serving one-sixth of his sentence. In short, there's no criminal deterrent aspect.
In the United States, the trials are much quicker, the sentences much more effective, and, the moment a group is concerned by an investigation and the police make arrests, criminals rush to become informants so they can settle their sentences as soon as possible. That happened in the case of our well-known Toronto publisher, Conrad Black. The case was solved thanks to an informant, an associate of Black's who came to the table. That's how the Americans operate and they put a lot of effort into it. As regards American structures, the RICO Act has been in effect since 1968 and works regularly. The trials are much shorter.
In Canada, ordinary citizens unfortunately don't often have an opportunity to go through the courts because it costs a fortune. Criminals have lawyers that they pay well, in cash.
Operation Colisée, for example, lasted five or six years, including the preparations. Since the police structure of the RCMP is centralized, there were five or six commanders. These are Ottawa bureaucrats who decide how things will operate. The decisions are not always bad, but these people are very far from the street and from the investigations. In addition, as a result of the police structure of the RCMP, a police officer has to be a generalist, that is to say good in all fields, in order to move up through the ranks.
However, in the fight against organized crime, it is a long-term effort that makes it possible to understand the operation of structures involving, for example, criminals of Sicilian origin who lived in farming communities, in villages, and who were able to import that type of structure to Montreal. Some get very effectively involved in drug trafficking, others in the upper levels of the construction industry, still others in political party financing.
Ultimately, we have an organized crime structure that is highly integrated and highly efficient. In addition, unfortunately, we're attacking situations that are likely to please the public, without however necessarily attacking organized crime effectively.
I'll answer questions later. I'll add others shortly.
Good morning. This will be in French as well.
Thank you for your invitation.
I am an RCMP officer and have been retired since 2006. In the last 15 years that I spent with the RCMP, I was assigned to the Criminal Intelligence Service Canada as coordinator of issues related to criminal biker gangs. Today, you could use the term “to the Hells Angels gang” since they've eliminated all the competition. My purpose was to facilitate and promote the exchange of intelligence between national and international law enforcement agencies. Here I'm not talking just about police departments, but also about correctional services, immigration services, customs services at the time and so on.
In the early 1990s, we witnessed the transformation of a small criminal enterprise into a multinational organized criminal organization that, like the mafia today, took control of certain construction sectors using the same methods as for their drug trafficking: intimidation and violence—I think André Noël will be talking about that. At the time, cooperation and coordination were minimal between police departments. At the start of the biker war, a national strategy was put in place, and the Carcajou squad was created at that time. That national strategy is still around and working well.
Let's look at a few details on how it works. It now provides access to data bases to squads specialized in the fight against biker gangs; it permits tactical and strategic exchanges on an ongoing basis among the various stakeholders; it permits ongoing awareness and training for members of law enforcement agencies on the importance of combining our efforts through documents, pamphlets, videos and so on; it permits the training of expert witnesses.
In 1992, the Immigration Act was amended. It was decided that, in future, any member of an organized criminal gang from outside the country would not have access to the country. At the time, we made a presentation and asked why the Hells Angels were not on that list. We ultimately convinced the authorities that they should be on it. To date, no foreign member of the Hells Angels, or even the Bandidos or Outlaws, can enter Canada with or without a criminal record. They are banned.
There's also the LAW Group, the Legal Advisor War Group, which the prosecutors from across the country responsible for Hells Angels cases joined. France Charbonneau was one of its leaders at the time. The members exchanged advice, as prosecutors were really reluctant to handle Hells Angels cases as a result of intimidation and so on.
So I think that this area of police work is doing well at this time.
My other point concerns the nonsensical fact that members of a criminal organization are allowed to walk the streets of Canada with their business cards displayed on their backs. This has three benefits for them. It helps, first, maintain the intimidation level, second, maintain the terror level and, third, even more important, secure the absolute trust of other criminals—100%—which facilitates their criminal activities, as is currently the case in the construction industry. In Hamburg, Germany, it has been prohibited to display the logo or name of the Hells Angels in public, under threat of imprisonment, since 1986.
We know that the government could, by simply issuing a government order, decide that a group is a terrorist organization and seize all their property. Why then aren't we doing it with the Hells Angels? It seems so complicated! Some hide behind the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as in 1995, when the first antigang law was passed, waving the spectre of the unconstitutional nature of that act. And yet, that act is doing very well.
I think that, over the long term, the Hells Angels are a greater threat to Canadian citizens than Al-Qaeda or the Tamil Tigers, with their 200 deaths, their 20 innocent people killed, their prison guards killed and their massive involvement in drug trafficking, whether it be through secret labs, hydroponic grow-ops or cocaine imports.
Another option would be to make a judicial declaration proving that the organization is essentially dedicated to crime. Since 2005 in Ontario, police officers have provided this evidence in court on four or five occasions, and it was allowed every time. In 2005, when this kind of situation arose for the first time and Judge Fuerst decided that the Hells Angels represented a criminal organization, they appealed to the Court of Appeal.
Last June, the Court of Appeal held that Judge Fuerst's decision was impeccable. The Hells Angels decided to appeal to the Supreme Court. If they lose in the Supreme Court, will we finally ban them, or will we still allow them to walk around with their business cards?
Two things make it possible to control organized crime more effectively. First, when someone is convicted of gangsterism, why have him serve only 50% of his sentence? Why have the slightest scruple? Why release him after he has served two-thirds of his sentence? Is that for the purpose of reintegration? That's unrealistic. There's no such thing in that world. Based on my 15 years' experience and my knowledge of the Hells Angels, I cannot remember the name of a single Hells Angel who became an honest citizen after serving time in prison.
When you talk about inflicting a heavy blow, the second most important thing is obviously money. It's true that some laws have never been tested in court and have always produced mixed results. I believe Michel talked about that. Mafia members leave prison with a lot of money in their pockets, which enables them to finance those lower down. If their pockets were empty, they would be much more vulnerable and would have trouble regaining their place in that environment.
Currently, an investigation makes it possible to establish profits and allows tax authorities to issue notices of assessment to those criminals. Deals are always struck and criminals constantly pay without any problem and at a discount, with an envelope full of cash or by personal cheque.
We're talking about gangsterism, and here's my suggestion. Why not require these individuals to hand over to the state all their profits, which can then be assessed, for example, at $10 million over the four years of an investigation? If they refuse to do so, they stay in prison until the fine has been paid, and they can't declare bankruptcy. If their term is served, but they still owe money, they would stay in prison.
We say we want to have an impact on the next generation and to discourage it; I think that's the most important thing to do. Both street gangs and other groups wait until they know their sentence and the number of assets seized before determining whether it's worth the trouble for them to get involved.
I think the key to success is in your hands. You can advise the politicians and the people at Justice Canada, who will decide how to change the laws. That's the most important thing to do.
Thank you very much. I would say that a collection of well-known journalists and police are more of a draw than sociologists or criminologists.
On behalf of the centre, I would like to first of all thank you very much for this invitation.
I will explain a bit about what we are. If you go to the window there, you will see our offices in the old Canadian Pacific building on the eighth floor. We are an international NGO, non-governmental organization, that was founded 15 years ago by the governments of Canada, Quebec, and France. Over the years we have accumulated eleven member governments, and they include Australia, South Africa, the State of Querétaro in Mexico, El Salvador, and we're negotiating with Brazil right now. We have a range of governments around the world.
We also have a network of organizations that form our board. These organizations are specifically interested in issues of community safety and crime, and public security around the world. It includes associations of cities: in Canada the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, in the U.S. the Commission of Mayors. It includes associations and organizations that work specifically on prevention issues on the ground: the National Council for the Prevention of Crime, in Washington, Crime Concern in Britain, and these kinds of organizations.
We have quite an extensive network in many regions, in Latin America and the Caribbean, in North America, Europe, Australia, and a large number of places in Africa. We are a little less networked in the Far East and in Arab-speaking countries, and these are some of the challenges we are hoping to meet.
The role of ICPC is to promote the notion of prevention as something that is just as important as good policing and legislation in any society. It has been based, in a sense, on looking at the success in France of the role of mayors in dealing with issues of riots and unrest in cities. Gil Bonnemaison was the head of a committee of mayors in the 1980s that was extremely successful in responding to the problems of hot summers in French cities, which are not the same for young people as they are for older ones who can sit in cafés.
That approach is about working across the board--“joined-up government”, as it's called in Britain--with everybody in the sector, not just the police, but environment sectors, housing, health, education, youth, and social services. I think the success of the model developed in France has inspired a number of countries, from New Zealand to South Africa, and many others.
Over the period since the 1980s, a real understanding has developed at the international level of the importance of working across the board, transversely rather than in individual silos, in terms of policing and security. This is called social development over there.
The mission of ICPC is to try to get a balance between the way we spend our money, the way we understand problems, and the way we work on the ground. I can come back to this later, but the way we understand what is happening around the world--and we're basing our knowledge on information drawn from many, many countries over a period of 15 years for our organization, but maybe 20 or 25 years of research on crime around the world--is that if you work together at the national, state, provincial, and local levels, and you work on building in prevention as well as balancing that with good policing and good legislation, then you have a much better chance of dealing with some of the root causes.
In relation to organized crime, I will say why it's tremendously important to us. And I apologize if you have the expectation that we are experts on organized crime; we are not.
What we are looking at is everyday crime, crime that affects people on the street and that includes the impacts of organized crime, whether it's in Surrey, Montreal, or any other part of Canada. So we're interested in what we can do at the local level, at the city level, to create safer communities and to prevent the problems that arise from youth gangs and street gangs.
The big issue is that there is a tendency to talk about organized crime and all of the specialized forces. Today I heard Julian Sher talking about this as an important approach. It is extremely important in the view of many other people that we have a balanced approach and that we work on all fronts.
Today I would like to give you some examples of projects in other countries. I'm sorry if you have heard of some of these from other witnesses, but I hope that the accumulation of information will result in a familiarity with the subject sufficient to ensure that we are all talking about the same kinds of things.
Organized crime is an extremely difficult thing to define. It's easy enough for us to say who belongs to the Hells Angels, but when it comes to street gangs it is not always easy to distinguish between those that are organized and those that are not.
The trafficking of art and antiquities is an active area at the moment. I was a conference recently on this topic. This is a world that is both legitimate and illegitimate, and it moves in and out in various ways. You cannot say art and antiquities theft is organized crime, because it's often people doing legal things that are a bit shady, some of which they know about, and some of which they don't. Money-laundering and many other things are happening in this field.
Organized crime is very attractive. It's easy to think we can do something strong to prevent it, but it's very difficult to pin it down. In this regard, I was interested in the testimony about the profit futures. It's important for us always to remember how difficult it is to define who we're talking about. If we go in only one direction, we will be pulling in people who shouldn't be involved.
At the international level, we now have norms and standards. There are transnational organized crime protocols and conventions, but there are also guidelines on crime prevention. Two sets of guidelines were adopted by ECOSOC, the most recent in 2002. These guidelines urge national governments, regional governments, and local governments to pay attention to organized crime and the links between it and ordinary street crime. This is where we can begin to make a difference in prevention.
These 2002 standards on crime prevention enjoin governments to work in this area, and they lay out certain things you can do in legislation, regulation, public education, money-laundering, attitudes towards human trafficking, and some of the other issues you have been talking about.
There's a sea change that's been happening at the international level. The UN's World Drug Report, 2009, which was published by UNODC in April of this year, is interesting because it's the first world drug report to urge governments to consider prevention rather than tougher legislation. It's the first report that talks about combining prevention treatment and repression. The good news from the world drug report is that the use of opiates, cocaine, and cannabis are down in the world's major markets, and that there have been many successful seizures of drugs around the world.
So for UNODC and for the world drug report, there was actually some good news coming out of the world of drugs, and attention is now being paid to the importance of looking at demand much more seriously in terms of prevention and treatment.
The other thing that I think is very interesting has been a series of reports produced again by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime in Vienna, from the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. These have looked at the links between crime and development, crime and violence, and crime and guns. They've looked at various areas—Africa, the Caribbean, Central America—and I think these reports have been coming out since 2004, 2005, and 2006.
These are very interesting regional reports that look at the links between security and organized crime, international impacts on countries as well as what's happening in countries, and the need for us to pay much more attention to safety and security before we can begin to get any kind of development, whether it's about poverty or whether it's just general economic development in a country.
So again, there is a movement to look at prevention, and in a quite broad way in terms of what that means. It doesn't have to be something that is very soft or very ill-defined, because there are some very clear experiences.
I think you can also see in some of the countries in Central America—El Salvador and Nicaragua, for example—that they have been using mano dura, really tough responses to the very serious problems of pandillas and maras and gang violence and organized crime in those countries, and it has not worked. The governments themselves have recognized this—and it's the general consensus among the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, UNODC, the World Health Organization, and elsewhere—that these approaches have been counterproductive in terms of filling up institutions and prisons with a large number of people who are gang-related, tattooed all over their bodies, and are not really going to be changed by the experience of being imprisoned.
They are beginning to look at the seeds of entry into gangs and how they can begin to prevent children getting into gang-related activities. There are some very interesting reports produced by the Washington Office on Latin America and a number of other organizations, which look at community-based projects that target specifically young men already in gangs, young men at high risk of being involved and drawn further into organized armed violence, and ways in which they can be given alternative lifestyles.
I tend to be an optimistic person, in spite of everything that happens every day. I think there have been a number of shifts in understanding about how we work internationally and in terms of the way we work. The approach of ICPC, and the kinds of crime prevention we are looking at, is very much a methodology rather than telling people what to do. It's about working across the board with people. It's about leadership from mayors, leadership from government, and having a balanced approach that covers a number of areas.
Just to give you some examples of quite spectacular success, since we're talking about organized crime, in 1991 the city of Medellin had a rate of homicides of 381 for every 100,000 people. It was the highest in the world, and it was largely the result of pandillas and guerrillas and armed groups in the city of Medellin. The city had basically lost control of its district. That rate of homicides in 1991—381 per 100,000—was reduced to 29 per 100,000 by 2007. It's a really extraordinary reduction, which has been gradual all the way from 1991 down to 2007.
The city of Bogotá is another extraordinary example, less affected by organized crime and gangs, more affected by the growth of the city, which was uncontrolled, and a lot of poverty. It was also very much ripe for young kids becoming involved in gangs, even if they weren't controlled by organized crime. The city of Bogotá had an annual rate of 80 homicides per 100,000 people in 1993 and reduced it to 19 per 100,000 people by 2007. That's a very low rate.
These are two extraordinary examples. And Cali is another city in Colombia that has done the same.
Although Colombia still has a very high rate, and Medellin's murder rate is ranked very high internationally, what is absolutely clear from these examples in Colombia is that it's been the result of a concerted attempt by these cities, with support from international organizations, obviously, and some funding. In applying this across-the-board approach—and sometimes a public health approach, if you like—they have said that any kind of violence is a public health issue, and that they have to respond to it in all the ways they can. It's a matter of setting up a series of approaches that combine serious attention to the high-risk groups and some really serious work in the targeted areas where the worst problems are and working with the youth on the ground, bringing in the community on the ground, and working with the church leaders and anybody else people still have some respect for, and putting money into those areas by supporting education projects, supporting training for youth, and many of these kinds of things.
It's this combination of approaches that has worked in those cities. If they can do it there, then I think we have an enormous amount to learn from them. If there's one thing that ICPC and the movement that's looking at the importance of prevention have demonstrated, it's that we can learn an enormous amount from cities and countries in the south, which have much more serious problems than we do.
I know I'm almost out of my time, but I will just mention that much closer to us, in the Chicago area, they have used some wonderful guys called violence interrupters—ex-gang members, ex-prisoners—who have been working to interrupt conflict and retaliatory shooting and have reduced the gun- and gang-related homicides in Chicago by quite a substantial amount, something like 25% to 75% in the various areas of Chicago over a period of time. That same approach has been used in Boston and Baltimore, and it's spreading across some 11 cities in the U.S. You may well have heard about this approach. I think David Kennedy might have talked to you in the past about it. I'm not quite sure.
There are many other examples, in Brazil, and in the United Kingdom, in Bradford, where there was an approach to develop a network on the ground with Muslim leaders. That particular approach has been very successful in preventing riots from occurring in the city of Bradford after an event. I think it was after the shootings and killings from the terrorist attacks in London, so this approach has actually prevented other events from happening.
All of these are illustrations, and there are a number of others I can give you, that demonstrate the importance of putting in place a range of approaches targeting the areas and the groups most at risk, and really putting facilities and support into education and recreation and many of the alternatives young people can have to joining a gang.