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Police resources in Canada, 2014

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Released: 2015-03-30

On the snapshot day of May 15, 2014, there were 68,896 police officers in Canada, 354 fewer than one year earlier. The rate of police strength, as measured by the number of police officers per capita, declined 1.6% from the previous year to 194 police officers per 100,000 population. After remaining stable in 2011, the rate of police strength has decreased each year since.

Despite recent declines, Canada's rate of police officer strength was 3.5% higher than a decade ago.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Rate of police strength, Canada - Description and data table
Rate of police strength, Canada

Chart 1: Rate of police strength, Canada - Description and data table

The rate of police strength decreased in 9 of the 13 provinces and territories in 2014. Prince Edward Island and Yukon reported increases, while Quebec and the Northwest Territories reported stable rates. Manitoba again had the highest rate of police strength, at 206 police officers per 100,000 population. Prince Edward Island reported the lowest rate of police strength, with 161 officers per 100,000 population.

Police strength decreased in 18 of Canada's 33 census metropolitan areas (CMAs) for which data were available in 2014. Declines ranged from 0.6% in Winnipeg to 4.5% in Regina. The rate of police strength increased in 9 CMAs, with gains ranging from 0.5% in Victoria and Kingston to 5.2% in Peterborough. It remained stable in the other 6 CMAs.

Winnipeg reported the highest rate of police strength among CMAs at 191 officers per 100,000 population. The lowest was reported by Saguenay (106 officers per 100,000 population).

Police services employed more than 28,400 civilians on the 2014 snapshot day of May 15. The ratio of officers to civilians has been slowly declining over the long term. A decade ago, there were 2.7 officers employed for every civilian, compared with 2.4 in 2014.

The number of female officers continued to grow slightly, while the number of male officers edged down. Women accounted for 20.6% of all police officers in 2014, compared with 16.5% a decade ago. Among the provinces and territories, the proportional representation of female officers in 2014 ranged from 8.4% in Nunavut to 24.7% in Quebec.

On May 15, 2014, 54% of police officers were 40 years of age and older. Although eligibility to retire may not be based solely on age, and requirements may vary by police service, the Police Administration Survey found that almost 5% of police officers were 55 years and older in 2014.

In the 2013 calendar or fiscal year, 11% of police officers were eligible for retirement, but only 2% of police officers actually retired. Retirements were the most common reason officers left a police service that year (68%). This was true for most provinces and territories, with the exception of New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Alberta, where reasons for departure were almost evenly split between those who retired and those who left for other reasons, such as being hired by another police service. Newfoundland and Labrador had the highest proportion of departures due to retirements, at over 9 in 10.

Overall, expenditures on policing totalled $13.6 billion in 2013, down 0.6% from 2012 when controlling for inflation. This decline was driven by a decrease in Royal Canadian Mounted Police expenditures for Headquarters, federal and international operations, and national policing services (-11.7%).

After controlling for inflation, total operating expenditures on policing rose in every province and territory in 2013 except Newfoundland and Labrador and Nunavut. Most increases ranged from 1.0% in Quebec to 1.9% in both Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. Yukon (+9.0%) and New Brunswick (+7.5%) reported the largest increases in operating expenditures on policing.

  Note to readers

Several factors may contribute to differences in the rates of police strength across jurisdictions and police services. These include differences in police services' priorities, policies, procedures and enforcement practices as well as the availability of resources.

In Canada, information on police personnel and expenditures is collected by Statistics Canada through the Police Administration Survey. Using data reported by each police service in Canada, this report provides details on police personnel at the national, provincial/territorial, and census metropolitan area levels.

Data in this report represent two distinct time periods. Most of the information on police personnel is based on a "snapshot date" of May 15, 2014, while data on hirings, departures, retirements, eligibility to retire, and expenditures represent the calendar year ending December 31, 2013 (or March 31, 2014, for those police services operating on a fiscal year).

In this release, rates with a percent change that rounds to 0% are considered stable.

The Juristat article "Police resources in Canada, 2014" (Catalogue number85-002-X) is now available. From the Browse by key resource module of our website under Publications, choose All subjects, then Crime and justice, and Juristat.

Contact information

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