Ministry of Justice honours KPU research group for innovation in gang prevention

Tue, Nov 5, 2013

Metro Vancouver, B.C. — Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton recognized a KPU research group for its ground-breaking work in developing projects that promote safer communities in the Lower Mainland.

Acting Together, a Community-University Research Alliance (CURA) based out of KPU Surrey, was awarded with a 2013 Crime Prevention and Community Safety Award in Burnaby on Friday for its “outstanding contributions toward crime prevention and community safety." The group is a federally-funded research project that addresses youth gang involvement, and has worked to engage youth groups, parents, teachers, service agencies and policy makers in a regional discussion about youth, gangs and risk prevention for the past four years.

"This award is an acknowledgement that blending academic expertise and community wisdom, with a focus on the strengths of our youth, provides a firm foundation for evidence-based gang-prevention strategies,” says Dr. Gira Bhatt, principal investigator and project leader. “I dedicate this award to all our partners who joined us in this collaboration. Their dedication and commitment to work together as a team to create a safe future for our youth is truly inspiring."

The award was part of the Ministry of Justice’s annual crime prevention awards ceremony, which ran in conjunction with Crime Prevention Week: A province-wide initiative that encourages communities to participate in events that promote crime prevention strategies. Acting Together was nominated in the community organization category by Chief Officer Dan Malo – of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit-BC (CFSEU-BC), the province’s gang task force – and Balwant Sanghera, Chair of the South Asian Community Coalition Against Youth Violence.

In 2009, Acting Together was awarded a $1-million CURA grant through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to identify factors that prevent youth from engaging in violent and gang-related criminal activities. The group has brought together academic researchers from KPU, SFU, UVic and Langara to work with 11 community agencies, including: Surrey Schools, Surrey RCMP, City of Surrey, service agencies and media groups. This innovative approach maps the strengths of youth, as well as their beliefs about crimes, to assist Lower Mainland detachments and the CFSEU-BC in targeting their prevention strategies. To date, Acting Together has hosted 14 major community forums on gang prevention, including the Chris Mohan Memorial Youth Forum.

The project team is currently examining the strengths and crime beliefs of at-risk youth. They will be hosting a conference in July 2014 to engage academic researchers, service providers, police agents and policy makers to share their findings, programs and policy implementations.  For more information on Acting Together, visit:

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Caption: Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton presented Acting Together project director and principal investigator Dr. Gira Bhatt with a 2013 Crime Prevention and Community Safety Award for a community organization.

For more information about AT-CURA project, contact:

Dr. Gira Bhatt
AT-CURA Project Director
Tel: 604.808.7876

For more information about KPU, contact:

Hayley Woodin
Media Specialist
Tel: 604.599.2883