Over $3.5 billion! Crime costs us at least that much every year in Québec. Nearly $2.5 billion are earmarked for prisons, police and the criminal justice system. At least another billion is spent on private security services.
And these are only a few of the visible costs, which are relatively easy to measure. If the property losses of victims, insurance premiums, medical expenses, the cost of home security systems and all the other hidden costs were added, by how much would that amount have to be multiplied?
In any case, we would still only have a vague picture of the costs generated by crime. How can we quantify the fear, the lives destroyed and the acts of vengeance? How can we measure the consequences of the mistrust that undermines social relations? What are the links between crime, the deterioration of our cities and economic development?
The rise in crime gives rise to a growing anxiety about our quality of life and the future development of society. To many of us, violence seems all-pervasive and the protection of people and property ever more difficult to ensure. Rightly or wrongly, fear becomes the daily lot of an increasing number of our fellow citizens.
Yet, we've refined our instruments for analysing crime and we better understand the factors that foster it. New approaches are being found and experiments focusing on prevention are becoming more and more frequent.
In this context, the mandate entrusted to the Task Force on Crime Prevention by the Minister of Public Security takes on a double significance. On the one hand, it testifies to our failure to curb crime and the insecurity it breeds. But on the other, it banks on the tremendous hope raised over the past few years by heightened awareness of the possibility and necessity of acting more effectively and at lesser cost, before the damage is done.