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A recent study of twenty Canadian municipalities has found no clear link between increased police spending and lower crime levels. Underscoring the significance of the study is that the cost of policing is the largest expense for most Canadian municipalities


The study examined data from 2010 to 2020 and revealed that most cities increased police spending after adjusting for inflation, but this did not correspond to a consistent decrease in crime. In fact, regions like Peel in Ontario, Quebec City, Gatineau, and Winnipeg saw crime rates rise despite increased police budgets. The researchers used a crime severity index from Statistics Canada to avoid biases from raw crime statistics, which might be inflated by more police arrests.


The researchers, led by Melanie Seabrook from St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, faced challenges in accessing actual police expenditure data since many cities do not readily disclose this information. The study, to be published in Canadian Public Policy, aligns with similar research in the United States but reveals a surprising disparity in police spending across Canada. For instance, Vancouver spends about 500 Canadian dollars per resident annually on policing, compared to Quebec City's 200 dollars per capita. This raises questions about the factors influencing budget decisions, especially given the overall long-term decrease in crime across Canada.


Building on the research, the team plans to compare police spending with social services expenditures during the same period. This next phase aims to illuminate the priorities of municipalities in terms of service allocation. The study's findings open up a broader discussion on effective public spending for crime prevention and community safety.

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