Police strength in Canada experienced a downward trend in 2022, continuing a trend that began over a decade ago. Despite the increase in the number of police officers, there was an even greater increase in the growth rate of the Canadian population, which led to a lower rate of police strength. This article will examine the recent data on a police strength in Canada and provide an overview of the key trends in this area.
Police Hires and Recruits in 2021/2022
In 2021/2022, police services in Canada hired 2,076 police officers and 1,894 recruits, 914 more hires in these two combined employee categories compared to the previous collection period. All provinces and territories except Ontario and Manitoba hired more police officers than recruits. In 2021/2022, the number of women police officers hired increased by 15%, and the number of women recruits hired increased by 16% compared with 2020/2021.
Number of Women Officers in All Ranks Grows Police Strength
The number of women in Canadian police services has been on a steady increase since 1986. In 2022, women represented 23% of all sworn officers. On May 15, 2022, there were 16,008 women police officers in Canada, an increase of 273 compared with 2021. Across different officer ranks, women police officers mostly held constable positions, making up about one-quarter (24%) of all constables in Canada.
Fewer Than 1 in 10 Police Officers are Racialized
Diversity and inclusion are central to discussions about police culture, given the importance of representing the Canadian population within police personnel. According to data from the 2021 Census of Population, 26.5% of Canada’s population was racialized. In 2022, among police services for which information was available, 8% of all police officers (unchanged from 2021) and 14% of recruits (11% in 2021) in Canada were racialized.
Representation of Indigenous Peoples in Police Services
In 2021, 5% of the Canadian population self-identified as Indigenous, namely First Nations people, Métis, or Inuit. Among police services for which information was available, on May 15, 2022, 4% of police officers had identified as Indigenous, as well as 4% of recruits. In First Nations police services, just over half (56%) of police officers self-identified as Indigenous.
The Number of Civilian Employees in Police Services is Increasing
Police services are increasingly comprised of civilian employees, such as clerks, communications staff, managers, and other professionals who primarily take care of administrative support, operational communications, information technology services, reception services, and vehicle and facility services. In addition to sworn officers, police services employed 32,717 full-time equivalents and recruits as of May 15, 2022, an increase of 310 employees from 2021. Of this number, 28,649 (88%) were civilian employees, 2,166 (7%) were special constables, and 1,902 (6%) were recruited.
Calls for Service Increase in 2021/2022
With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, the number of calls for service to police services increased by 2.7% compared with 2020/2021. Police services answered around 11.9 million calls in 2021/2022, or an average of 1,356 calls for service per hour. Municipal police services handled just over 6 in 10 calls for service were handled by municipal police services, while the RCMP, Ontario Provincial Police, and Sûreté du Québec together handled the remaining 4 in 10 calls. The most frequent types of calls for service were related to disturbances (15.4% of all calls), well-being and mental health (13.8%), and suspicious activities and persons (11.4%).
Despite the increase in calls for service, the rate of police-reported crime in Canada decreased by 8% in 2021 compared with the previous year. This decline was observed in most provinces and territories, with the largest decreases in Saskatchewan (-20%) and the Northwest Territories (-19%). In contrast, some provinces and territories reported increases in the rate of police-reported crime, including Newfoundland and Labrador (+14%) and Nunavut (+8%).
|Category||Number||Change from 2021|
|Police officers hired||2,076||+914|
|Women police officers hired||15% increase||N/A|
|Women recruits hired||16% increase||N/A|
|Women police officers (all ranks)||23% of all sworn officers||+273|
|Racialized police officers||8% of all police officers||Unchanged|
|Indigenous police officers||4%||N/A|
|Civilian employees in police services||28,649 (88%)||+310|
|Special constables in police services||2,166 (7%)||N/A|
|Recruits in police services||1,902 (6%)||N/A|
|Calls for service to police services||11.9 million||+2.7%|
|Police-reported crime rate||-8%||N/A|
|Most frequent types of calls for service||Disturbances (15.4%)||N/A|
|Well-being and mental health||13.8%||N/A|
|Suspicious activities and persons||11.4%||N/A|
In conclusion, the rate of police strength in Canada continued its downward trend in 2022, despite an increase in the number of police officers. The number of women police officers and recruits also increased, as did the number of civilian employees in police services. While efforts are being made to increase the diversity of police personnel, fewer than 1 in 10 police officers are racialized. Additionally, the representation of Indigenous peoples in police services is close to that observed in the 2021 Census. Finally, the number of calls for service increased in 2021/2022, but the rate of police-reported crime decreased.