Police Discretion with Young Offenders

V. Situational Factors Affecting Police Discretion

6.0 Location and time of day

Almost two-thirds of our interviewees (65%) said that they do not consider location or time of day to be a factor in their decision-making with young offenders. Another 22% said that these are only minor factors.

Provincial police officers (including RCMP officers) are less likely (24%) to consider location or time of day a factor, compared to independent municipal police officers (41%). Officers located in metropolitan and suburban/exurban jurisdictions are more likely (43%) to take the location of the offence or the time of day into account than officers in rural areas or small towns (23%). Officers in communities with serious violent youth crime are less likely to consider the location or time of day to be a factor or major factor in their decision-making with youth (7% versus 15% of officers in other communities). However, officers in communities with a youth prostitution problem are much more likely to take location and time of day into account (56% versus 9% in other communities), as are, to a lesser extent, officers in communities with drug-related youth crime (18% versus 5%). Officers in communities with a significant off-reserve aboriginal population are less likely to consider the location or time of day to be a factor or major factor (8% versus 15% of officers in other communities).

Officers working in a youth squad were much more likely (43%) to consider the location of the crime and the time of day to be a factor or a major factor in their decision-making. This is probably due to youth squad officers' particular interest in attaching specific, appropriate conditions to release Undertakings (e.g. "no go", curfew; see Chapter II, Section 7.3, and Chapter IV, Section 4.1). The great majority (80-90%) of officers in other units (patrol, GIS, etc.) do not consider this a factor, or at the most, a minor one. However, youth squad officers indicated that they tend to take all factors into account in order to find the best course of action for that young person.

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