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Background--- HRM Policing Review

(Tuesday, August 27/2002)--Halifax Regional Municipality recognizes that the Halifax Regional Police (HRP) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) are providing valued services within the region--- and providing them well.

Nevertheless, HRM must make decisions about future resourcing of policing services in the context of what the public expects HRM to provide, and there is not an unlimited source of funds to add resources at will.

Because of the uniqueness in having two service providers, it was felt there was a need for the development of a common Business Plan to provide policing services throughout HRM, regardless of the service provider. The purpose of the review was not to select a preferred police service delivery, and no recommendations or comments are made in this respect.

A consultant, Perrivale + Taylor, was hired to assist in the determination of an appropriate level of policing services throughout HRM, based on best value and performance standards. The study team, with police/academic/private industry experience, undertook interviews; conducted focus groups; reviewed the literature; examined relevant documents; and participated in ride-alongs in both HRP and RCMP districts. The study cost $169,310, plus HST. (The Province of Nova Scotia contributed $25,000 towards the cost.)

The report is fairly detailed, although data incompatibility prevented statistical analysis at an overall HRM level. It provides information on policing services currently being provided; benchmarks with other jurisdictions; and analysis of officer utilization.

The report states that both HRP and the Halifax Detachment of the RCMP are both are competent and professional, and concludes that HRM is well served by both service providers. Not only do they make significant contributions to safety and security in HRM, but through their special skills and expertise, contribute to the policing of other jurisdictions. The study did not find one service better than another.

While both organizations are providing a quality service in the HRM, the report outlines a total of 81 recommendations. A number relate specifically to creating efficiencies; some will require a period of time to implement; while others are not operationally suitable.

The report mentions there are some issues regarding information- sharing; difficulty demonstrating that community priorities are being met; and inefficiencies in some service delivery functions.

It provides a number of recommendations dealing with ways to improve:

  • business planning
  • shared responsibility with the public, and
  • service delivery to increase effectiveness and efficiencies.

The consultant identifies a number of areas where both policing agencies can work better together. The recommendations involve specific actions by the Province of Nova Scotia, Halifax Regional Council, the Halifax Regional Board of Police Commissioners, HRM's Chief Administrative Officer, the HRP and the RCMP.

HRM staff are currently reviewing the recommendations and will be reporting back to Regional Council in the near future with an action plan to respond to the review's recommendations. Some recommendations have already been acted upon.

Notable Findings

  • As a port city, HRM has similar or lower rates of crime than other port cities such as Vancouver, Victoria and St. John.
  • The overall cost of the HRP is comparable to other similar size cities such as Windsor, Saskatoon and Regina and appears to be as cost-effective as other larger cities such as Calgary, Winnipeg and Vancouver. Based upon calculations provided by the consultants, the overall expenditures for the RCMP service in HRM was less than the predicted costs for policing in the jursisdiction.
  • The number of citizens served by HRP and RCMP officers is towards the higher end of the spectrum, when compared to other cities and regions.
  • HRP's crime rates are not dramatically different from those in other Canadian cities. Comparable data for the areas served by the RCMP was not available due to statistical methodology.
  • A comprehensive business planning process is essential to ensure effective and efficient operation of municipal services, and applies to policing and public safety services within HRM.
  • Performance measures must be agreed upon, and reported. The Board of Police Commissioners must be provided the tools to oversee both the HRP and the RCMP.
  • In their discussions and analysis, the consultants did find a few examples (given the existence of two service providers) where the public were inconvenienced or rendered vulnerable; where officer safety was jeopardized; where operational effectiveness was compromised; and where optimum use was not made of funding.
  • The study also noted the competition between the two forces sometimes percolates to conflict, but is rarely seen in the public domain. However, it goes on to say that the dual responsibility primarily brings a collaboration that operates against a backdrop of mutual support and respect.
  • The report examines operations that would benefit from some consolidation and rationalization of resources, as well as improved information flow. Examples of possible collaboration in service delivery identified K-9 and Identification services; major crime investigation; point of entry security; break and enters; domestic violence; booking and care of persons in custody; supervision of joint units; call receipt and dispatch; and services to victims of crime.
  • The study also identifies the need for greater cooperation and coordination in the use of technology, particularly with respect to communications, records management and automated fingerprint identification systems.

-30--

Sergeant Don Spicer
Halifax Regional Police, Media Relations
(902) 490-5397

Constable Peter Marshall
Media Relations Officer, Halifax Detachment RCMP
(902) 869-5079 (cell) 229-6523

John O'Brien
HRM Corporate Communications Officer
(902) 490-6531

Above content last modified Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 8:49am.