More Police Does Not Equal Less Crime: Canada’s Cities Have Sufficient Police Resources

Canadian cities are very safe relative to American cities. Some cities could reduce crime with a targeted police presence in relatively dangerous neighbourhoods. However, simply increasing police levels does not appear to be an effective anti-crime strategy, and police services could free up resources by adopting more efficient staffing policies.

Executive Summary

• A common assumption among Canadian policy makers is that hiring more police officers will lead to a reduction in the overall crime rate. Research from the United States and the United Kingdom establishes

that an increased police presence can reduce crime in some contexts.

• Canadian urban centres are relatively safe and it is debatable whether there is much room for crime reduction and subsequent prevention in most of them.

• Analysis of crime rates, clearance rates and police staffing data suggests that increasing police staffing numbers has diminishing returns for crime reduction.

• Canadian cities that are facing crime problems have adequately staffed police services. Making more effective use of one-officer police cruisers and eliminating redundancies are more reasonable policy alternatives to an increase in police staffing.

• Providing funding for more police officers without proper scrutiny would be fiscally irresponsible.

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