Last week, an advisory report on policing recommended a series of comprehensive reform measures to overhaul Quebec’s police system. However, the very next day, the Minister of Public Security, Geneviève Guilbault, declared that the reforms would not be adopted in the short or the medium term. By refusing to open up a debate about the structure of the police in the province, the Quebec government is missing an opportunity to innovate and improve the effectiveness of our police, all while reducing costs.
Looking at what is done in other countries can provide us with several sources of inspiration. One potential change would be to transfer certain less technical tasks to subcontractors. Indeed, security agents with specific training could monitor parking, carry out patrol activities, and manage traffic.
Such reforms were put in place in certain police forces in the United Kingdom in the early 2010s. In addition to observing a substantial drop in police operating costs, certain districts also saw a drop in crime, as police officers could concentrate on their core activities.
Other districts also subcontracted certain administrative tasks so that police could spend more time in the field. In certain cases, police officers can spend 40% of their time filing reports and doing other paperwork. By entrusting a portion of these tasks to subcontractors, police officers can more fully devote themselves to their roles of providing community support and investigating and preventing crime.
We have an opportunity to rethink the structure of our police. It would be a shame not to take inspiration from the best practices adopted in other countries in order to provide Quebecers with better services and greater safety, all while doing a better job of managing the public purse.