The Harper government has prided itself on being “tough on crime” ever since its initial campaign and subsequent election in 2006. How exactly has policing changed in Canada thus far into the 21st century? For this week’s map, we crunched some recent Statistics Canada data to reveal the number of civilians per police officer and here is what we found:
The biggest story told by this map is clearly the intensity of policing associated with the northern territories. This can partially be attributed to the distribution of population in small, isolated communities – each one needing their own detachment – but the severity of crime has been proven to be higher in the territories. Looking southwards, the provinces with a higher level of policing are Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec – the first two of which are no stranger to violent crime. The subtle, overarching trend visible in the police presence in Canada over the last 12 years is – despite declining crime rates at the provincial level – there has been an increase in the total number of police officers working across the country since the pre-9/11 era. Will this trend continue? Politicians and community leaders across Canada are skeptical – with the recent expiry of the federal Police Officer Recruitment Fund, initiated in 2008 to hire officers across the nation, forces may not have the budgets to sustain the numbers in their ranks. The next federal election will be telling – presumably we’ll either see “tough on crime” rhetoric amped up or fade into the woodwork.