For a collaborative model to govern public security In Canada for the 21st century

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« The best way to predict the future is to create it » (Peter Drucker)

Futurists are telling us that we should spend more time reflecting on the future, « Visioning » what may await us, so our present won’t be an obstacle to our future potential, one that will be shaped by significant forces.

In « People Without Jobs, Jobs Without People », Rick Miner identified two mega trends that will impact Canada in the next decades: a growing aging population and a shift toward a knowledge based economy.

The number of working-age Canadians for every senior will fall from 5 to 2.7 by 2030 and the only population growth between 2026 and 2036, will come as a result of immigration (1). Meanwhile, the world population will continue to grow and will exceed nine billions people. Geopolitical, environmental and economic factors will contribute to migrations, adding to the size of our large metropolitan areas.

By 2050, seven out of ten persons will live in cities. Urban planning, new energy sources and technologies will change how we live together. This will spur new demands for services which will affect public security. So it may be timely to rethink the delivery of security services in Canada.

Police forces in North America are afflicted by high attrition rates, due to retiring baby boomers and further strained by new demands such as attending to homelessness, investigating cyber crimes and contributing to peace building initiatives. They are also facing a fierce competition to attract educated workers, in a way that will reflect the diversity of our communities.

But what if we didn’t have to replace each retiring police officer? Given a blank canvas, how would we organize ourselves to better align security investments with resources availability? In this article, we will propose a new model for public security, based on four pillars, to leverage the complementary values and strengths found in the public and private sectors.

Police and auxiliary officers form our first pillar. Theirs tasks are complimentary and aligned with « core » and « non core » police functions. With the police reform act of 2002, authorities in England are allowed to impart some functions and responsibilities to community officers, the private sector and auxiliary officers.

Auxiliary police programs in Canada, could be further leveraged, by offering a great pre- employment education program, to experience first hand, the reality of police work. This best practice is illustrated by the partnership between the Teesside University and the North East of England police force (2).

The second pillar of our model is composed of support and specialized services, ranging from recruiting, training (colleges, universities), IM/IT to procurement, allowing police forces to pool resources and reduce their costs, through joint or regional procurement initiatives. This would also allow for a constant level of expertise, while generating a more efficient return on training investments.

The private security sector, our third pillar, could conduct background checks, respond to petty crime (stolen bicycles, mobile phones) and assume some aspects of crowd control and escort duties. Non critical responsibilities, presently assumed by police forces, could be delegated to the private sector, using outcome based contracts. There are successful precedents in Canada, including the approach developed by CATSA with its contractors. This would also allow police officers, to focus on those tasks for which they were trained, increasing their motivation and job satisfaction.

Considering that 90% of police budget are affected to police officers’ salaries, gains in efficiency could be achieved through a different ratio of police personnel in relation to civilian and private sector staff. In the UK, the ratio stands at 1.4/1 as compared to 2.5/1 in Canada (3). The British model has allowed police forces, to reduce their costs by 30 to 40% while increasing the overall level of public satisfaction. There is no reason why this could not also be the case in Canada.

The fourth pillar allows communities to get involved in their own protection. New crowdsourcing applications, have led to interesting developments such as the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. Corporate citizens, who want to give back to their communities, could also provide goods, services and expertise, in the support of public security, such as with the Microsoft Cybercrime Centre.

The delineation of what constitutes « core and non core », should fall to governments, to coordinate and promote a frank dialogue with all stakeholders. They may conclude that a portion of duties performed by police officers could be delegated to civilian staff and the private sector. The percentage, in our view, is sufficiently important to investigate that potential.

This proposed collaborative model would also benefit from an integrated recruiting and training approach that would allow for the cross-pollination of talents, with bridges between the public and private sectors, to allow for developmental opportunities and career progression.

As a first step, Public Safety Canada could launch discussions with its provincial partners, to develop this model, taking into account regional variances. Police forces are doing an excellent job in looking at future enforcement trends, however, our governments’ leadership is paramount in structuring a new organizational framework for securing the Canadian public in the 21st century.

As a second step, we believe that the policy foundations would benefit from a deep dive analysis, that could include « Who will Police and Who will pay »? (4).  Considering the importance of our cities, they should be invited to participate in this exercise.

We trust that this paper can help to stimulate the nascent debate in Canada concerning the cost of public security and ultimately lead to the development of a new collaborative model, that will benefit the Canadian public for years to come.

Yves Duguay, EMBA, ICD.D President of HCiWorld

  1. ; (march, 2014).
  2. Pepper, I.K. and McGrath, R. (2010), « Pre-employment course: a partnership for success? », Education + Training, Vol. 52 No. 33, pp. 245-254, ISSN 0040-0912.
  3. Andrew Graham (april 2014), When is Safe Enough Safe Enough? National Security Strategy for Canada series, Macdonald-Laurier Institute, Ottawa, Ontario.
  4.; (march, 2014).