Is Canada ready for “plural policing”?
By Mark LaLondeFeatures Expert Advice Opinion xpera
Are we on the cusp of a new era in Canadian government thinking and policy on community safety, crime prevention and the delivery of policing services? If so, are industry regulators and the broad security industry ready?
As one evolution of their Economics of Policing national discussion, Public Safety Canada has commissioned two studies in recent weeks. One focuses on opportunities for civilianization of select policing functions while the other is a review and discussion of international practices in regard to the use of private security services for some policing functions.
As one strategy to help enhance public safety, prevent crime and reduce costs, many governments are well ahead of Canada in integrating private security as an adjunct to public police services. Successful examples can be found throughout the EU, Australia, the US and Singapore, to name a few. Some label the approach ‘tiered policing’ while others call it ‘plural policing.’
Think back 20 years to the basic tasks police used to perform that they no longer have the time, resources, political will or budget to perform. As a child growing up in a small B.C. town, my first sight of a uniformed Constable at our door was when he came to collect an overdue library book. Priorities have certainly changed.
Going to every residential break and enter, theft of auto report, damage to property and alarm call used to be a routine part of policing. Now these are largely seen as incidents that can be reported online or by phone, or left to the private sector.
Rising police budgets, falling crime rates, the complex demands on police resources and the gradual roll back of frontline police service delivery have all been identified drivers of a shift in public policy that is now ready to embrace some private sector solutions.
The question for us as a broad industry is – are we ready?
Our industry is challenged in many ways. The absence of recognized national standards, regulations and accredited professional development programs that will prepare our staff for new roles and responsibilities hinders us. Would a federal government suggested a training standard, that includes tiers and specialities, benefit clients and industry?
What can security industry members do to stand out as proven leaders and innovators? Where will the frontline staff and supervisors come from? Will the emerging market allow for increased bill rates such that better qualified staff can be attracted and retained?
Stay tuned. Another Economics of Policing national summit is taking place this week in Ottawa. I’m optimistic that a new era is just around the corner for our industry.
Mark LaLonde is Director, International Operations, Xpera Risk Mitigation & Investigation (www.xpera.ca).
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