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Assessment, Sobering and Care Collaboration

Edmonton has a large population of homeless people, many of whom are addicted or mentally ill. The growing number of ‘vulnerable persons’ puts a strain on the police service and on Edmonton’s shelters.

During the day, social agencies provide assistance to a lot of our vulnerable people, but at night, the police and other emergency service providers deal with the problem. On any given night, officers have to find a safe place for those who haven't committed a crime but are too intoxicated to be on the streets. : It's an issue that's affected different areas of the city for years.

Officers also spend a lot of time on social disorder calls, of which the EPS receives thousands per year. Often, officers might spend upwards of 2.5 hours on one call for an ambulance.

Chief Rod Knecht is spearheading a possible solution to the problem. He's introduced the idea of an Assessment, Sobering and Care Collaboration. With this concept, our most vulnerable people would have access to a 24-7 facility where they would receive assessment and assistance in carrying out a long-term care program. This concept would reduce the negative impact on resources, while keeping people out of jail.

The Assessment, Sobering and Care Collaboration is intended to provide better outcomes for vulnerable people. It would also help local communities and increase social system efficiencies and effectiveness.

First Steps – Heavy Users of Services Pilot Project

As we move toward the Assessment, Sobering and Care Collaboration, we want to test its concepts and processes. We’re doing this through the Heavy Users of Services Pilot Project.

For this pilot project, the EPS is working with multiple social services providers, provincial and municipal governments, first responders and First Nations.

This group will develop criteria to select about 50 vulnerable individuals who are the greatest draw on Edmonton’s social, health and justice services. Each individual will get a personalized plan, developed and executed based on the Assessment, Sobering and Care Collaboration concepts and processes. 

By tracking these individuals over 12-24 months, information can be gathered about the Collaboration’s concepts/processes and the social service network. Gaps, overlaps and strengths can be identified in the existing models. The information gained through this project will be used to assess some of the concepts of the Assessment, Sobering and Care Collaboration initiative. It will improve the social service system used to support vulnerable persons.