Controlling the Costs of Policing
It is no secret that policing today is substantially more challenging and time-consuming than ever before. The nature of allocating police resources, also referred to as the ‘economics of policing’ is a topic I’ve taken a great interest in. To that end, I’m pleased to be in the United Kingdom this week to meet with my counterparts to discuss the implications of the changing face of policing.
As Minister of Public Safety, I’ve seen firsthand that police officers face overwhelming amounts of paperwork that are increasingly curtailing their ability to perform their primary duties.
In my former career as a prosecutor, it took police an hour to process an impaired driver. Now it’s three to four hours – sometimes more – for the same offence. Even in relatively small investigations, the amount of time required by police has substantially increased, limiting the ability of police chiefs to get police out on the streets.
Organized crime networks have become increasingly pervasive both domestically and internationally while new technologies have made it easier for these syndicates to evade detection and prosecution.
Many police services have taken on a greater role in counter-terrorism efforts since the 9-11 attacks. Cyber-crimes are also on the rise, as are commercial and other financial crimes. Additionally, police are dealing with a wide-range of social, mental health, addiction and poverty related incidents which in many cases might be better handled by health agencies or community groups.
The end result is that policing costs are rising substantially. The question then is how can we move forward together with the municipalities, provinces, territories and stakeholders to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of policing in Canada? How can we ensure that policing continues to adapt to today’s social and economic realities? And how do we find a solution to the rising costs of policing while continuing to meet the public’s demand for an increasingly broad and diverse range of policing services?
These are some of the questions I hope to address this week during my meetings. In recent years, the U.K. has launched significant reforms in the area of policing with the goal of increasing cost effectiveness, while also enhancing policing practices. I’m looking forward to discussing these reforms to share best practices, learn of results to date, and consider if and how we can apply any of it here in Canada.
While work is already underway here in Canada to find innovative and practical ways of addressing policing costs, it’s important that we learn from other jurisdictions – both inside and outside of Canada – and look for areas for improvement.
In a few months, I will be hosting a National Summit on the ‘Economics of Policing,’ in Ottawa. This week’s meetings are an important step in the process and I look forward to interesting and productive discussions that will benefit Canadians.