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No link between police funding and crime

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Since 2020, requests for “defunding” the police regularly makes headlines. (Archive photo)

  • Jean-François Gérard (View profile)Jean-François Gérard

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There is no link between the level of funding of the police ;#x27;a city and its crime rate. This is what a study from the Upstream laboratory at Saint Michael's Hospital in Toronto found, which looked at the cases of 20 Canadian municipalities.

Academics compared the per capita level of police funding in each municipality between 2010 and 2019 with the severity index of Crime (IGC), which makes it possible to monitor the level of seriousness of crimes in Canada each year.

In Ontario, all types of results coexist. For example, police funding was increasing in Ottawa and York Region in recent years, but the CSI had increased.

In London, Waterloo or the Peel region on the other hand, this funding for police services has also increased, but the IGC has decreased.

In other cities across the country the per capita police budget has fallen.

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This is the case of Montreal and Calgary. The two cities, however, experienced different fates. Crime was down in Montreal, but increased in Calgary.

No pattern emerged, summarizes lead author Mélanie Seabrook, research assistant at the University of Toronto.

For each city we did this analysis and found that there was no correlation between crime and police funding data, neither positive nor negative.

In 2019, Toronto was above the 20 city average for funding per capita of its police, but lower in the percentage of its budget that it devotes to it.

Both extremes go to Quebec City with $217.05 per capita for its police, while Vancouver spent more than double, with $495.84 per capita.

However, Quebec has a GCI of around 50. Again, it is half as much as in Vancouver, around 110.

With these very contrasting results, the authors do not draw any conclusions about police funding, but according to them, they ask questions about the reasons for such a difference in police funding across the country.

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Demonstrators are demanding the defunding of the metropolitan police and the redistribution of part of the budget of the Police Department of the City of Montreal to community organizations. (File photo)

Overall, 16 of 20 municipalities increased their per capita police funding over the period studied. At the same time, the CSI was down slightly in 15 of them and on average across all 20 cities, following a long-term trend that began in the 1990s in Canada.

This study was launched as debates on defunding the police intensified and instead called for the funding of local services. We noticed that there was very little research on police funding in Canada, notes Mélanie Seabrook.

The academic notes that his team had difficulty accessing municipal budgets, even when they were specifically requested from administrations.

In addition to calling on them for more transparency, Mélanie Seabrook notes that community safety is very dependent on the local context.

Thus, public participation in the development of budgets allows decision-makers to take into account the local context and the needs of those administered.

This research calls for other, more detailed studies of crime by exploring other factors, including demographics , the socio-economic situation or the type of public services present.

Another possibility: look at a more detailed reading of the different categories of crimes, such as attacks on property, compared to violent crimes.

The Upstream Lab at Saint Michael's Hospital is working on a second part of the study that compares police funding versus social services in Ontario municipalities.

  • Jean-François Gérard (View profile)Jean-François GérardSuivre
Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116