Furthering Our Community by Uniting Services (FOCUS) is an innovative, collaborative risk driven approach to Community Safety and Wellbeing co-led by the City of Toronto, United Way Toronto and Toronto Police Service that aims to reduce risk, harm, crime, victimization and improve community resiliency and wellbeing. The model builds off of international best practices and lessons learned through the Community Crisis Response Program.
The model brings together the most appropriate community agencies at a weekly situation table to provide a targeted, wrap around approach to the most vulnerable individuals, families and places that are experiencing heightened levels of risk in a specific geographic location. Sites include:
- FOCUS Rexdale (23 Division TPS) – Operational since January 2013
- FOCUS North Scarborough (42 Division TPS) – Launched April 2016
- FOCUS Downtown East (51 Division TPS) – Launched October 2016
- FOCUS Downtown West (14 Division TPS) – Launched October 2016
How does it work?
A multi-agency team meets once a week to identify individuals, groups and places that are at a high risk of anti-social and/or criminal behaviour as either perpetrators or victims. By leveraging the skills and resources of diverse community partners, the initiative is able to respond to situations of Acutely Elevated Risk (AER) using multiple approaches — providing the community with the best possible interventions to respond to safety risks. The first element of response happens between 0 – 48 hours following a meeting.
Acutely Elevated Risk (AER) Situations
“Acutely elevated risk” refers to any situation impinging on individuals, families, groups or places where circumstances indicate an extremely high probability of the occurrence of harms or victimization. Left unattended such situations will require a variety of emergency responses including police, fire, EMTs, Mental Health, Children’s Aid and others.
The “acute” nature of these situations is an indicator that:
- Either chronic conditions have accumulated to the point where a crisis is imminent;
- New compelling circumstances have contributed to severely increased risks; and/or,
- If left unattended there are serious risks of either physical or psychological harm to self and others.
Submission of AER Situations to FOCUS
Situations can be brought forward to FOCUS when:
- Conditions of the situation have acute elevated risk as described above
- Intervention for situation requires a multi-agency, wrap-around response.
- FOCUS Toronto supports local situation tables with coordination, administration and special tools that strengthen outcomes for vulnerable populations.
- FOCUS Toronto will mobilize Youth Violence Prevention initiatives in the 4 above noted identified FOCUS areas.
- This structure also analyzes and evaluates the information being collected at the situation tables and key program areas to identify trends, gaps, operational/system level barriers and best practices in human service delivery systems for vulnerable populations.
- Recommendations identified by FOCUS Toronto will influence partnership development, local planning, generate new priorities, opportunities for targeted investment and outcomes that will enhance community safety and well-being in the City of Toronto.
The FOCUS Steering Committee consists of senior leadership from Toronto Police Service, United Way of Greater Toronto and The City of Toronto and provides strategic oversight of the operations of the FOCUS Toronto model.
The role of the table is to drive system-level reforms that will increase the capacity of the City and its partners to respond effectively to complex health and safety risks involving vulnerable Torontonians, their homes or property, and their neighbours
- An evaluation was conducted of FOCUS Rexdale in2015. The evaluation informed the development of the model and informed expansion
- Evaluation of FOCUS Rexdale Pilot Project – May 2015
Information Sharing at Situation Tables
A guidance document was developed by the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (ministry), in consultation with its inter-ministerial, policing and community partners and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC).
Ontario Working Group on Collaborative Risk Driven Community Safety
Toronto Police Service and The City of Toronto were active participant of the OWG which partnered with Police Services, Municipalities and Community Partners from across the Ontario. The City of Toronto co-chaired the developed a number of documents and tools to advance risk-driven community safety and wellbeing approaches.