OTTAWA – The RCMP is considering “significant cuts” to police services which include a resource centre for missing children and a national sex offender registry, according to a briefing note for Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney.
National Police Services are provided by the RCMP to gather criminal information and share intelligence with 500 police and criminal justice agencies across Canada.
The RCMP is facing an annual funding deficit next fiscal year of $32.5 million for the police services “which it can no longer manage,” reads the note obtained under access to information.
The document says the RCMP, in collaboration with the department of public safety, is working on a “comprehensive strategy” to address these challenges.
But the RCMP won’t reveal what that strategy is.
“Barring the success of the National Police Services strategy, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has identified potential significant cuts to National Police Services expenditures to ensure that it can meet its financial commitments beginning April 1, 2014,” it says.
Most of the services are funded by the federal government, although forensic analysis is partially cost-shared with the provinces and territories.
“This is a huge deal,” said Liberal public safety critic Wayne Easter.
“It’s an endless list of services, so any one or all of them could be affected.”
Easter said the RCMP could decide to download some costs to provinces, or cut them altogether.
“That would create some, I think, serious problems,” he said.
NDP public safety critic Randall Garrison blames Conservative budget cuts to the RCMP. He said there are already delays ranging between four months to a year in processing DNA samples, which impacts both victims and prosecuting offenders.
“This is really surprising for a government that claims to be for law and order, because the biggest deterrent to crime is quick prosecution,” said Garrison.
“And it’s also a big surprise for a government that claims to care about victims because this is going to delay court proceedings and drag out things for victims.”
Read: Secret public safety briefing notes about National Police Services
Blaney’s spokesman said the minister was not available for an interview. A spokeswoman for public safety said the government is “aware of the challenges faced by National Police Services” and is committed to delivering services to law enforcement agencies across Canada.
“The Government of Canada is working collaboratively with provinces and territories to implement a strategy that would fairly address the financial pressures the RCMP is currently facing in delivering National Police Services. We are not in a position to provide additional details while these discussions are underway,” spokesman Josée Picard wrote in an email.
The RCMP would not comment on the potential cuts.
“The Government is considering financial aspects of the RCMP strategy. The RCMP cannot comment on those deliberations,” spokesman Sgt. Greg Cox wrote in an email.
In response to an auditor general’s report in 2011 that found the RCMP had not clarified which services should be provided and how they should be funded, Cox said the RCMP has created an advisory committee to prioritize services and programs, as well as a policy charter.
The RCMP did not respond to questions about this year’s police services budget. But documents obtained by CBC in 2011 show that federal funding had decreased by about $20 million over a five-year period, leaving the RCMP to use its own funds to cover the costs.
Easter said he would like the RCMP to hold off on cuts until the public safety committee, which has been studying the economics of policing, makes its final recommendations.
He blamed the Conservatives for trying to eliminate the deficit at the expense of important services.
“The problem that I think the RCMP right now finds itself under, is you have a government given all the other crazy decisions they’ve made, is blindly focused on they have to balance the books to the exclusion of all else,” he said.
“They shortchange the RCMP and put the RCMP in a position that it feels it has to cut important services to Canadians and under the National Police Services end up jeopardizing what the RCMP in fact is all about.”
The list of National Police Services (Source: 2011 June Status Report of the Auditor General of Canada)
|Canadian Criminal Real Time Identification Services||Maintains the national repository of fingerprint and criminal record information.||1908|
|Forensic Laboratory Services||Provides forensic analysis services relating to criminal cases in biology, toxicology, firearms, trace evidence, and counterfeit and document examinations.||1937|
|Canadian Police College||Provides specialized and advanced police sciences and leadership training to foreign and Canadian senior police officers.||1966|
|Canadian Police Information Centre||Serves as a central repository that provides information on crimes and criminals.||1966|
|Criminal Intelligence Service Canada||Facilitates the production and exchange of criminal information and intelligence.||1970|
|Canadian Bomb Data Centre||Provides support and information in combatting the illegal use of explosives.||1972|
|Violent Crime Linkage Analysis System||Serves as a central repository that provides information on serial criminals and violent crimes.||1991|
|National DNA Data Bank||Serves as a central repository that captures and references DNA profiles from crime scenes and convicted offenders.||2000|
|Canadian Police Centre for Missing and Exploited Children||Provides investigative assistance to help reduce the vulnerability and exploitation of children.||2004|
|National Sex Offender Registry||Serves as a central repository that provides current information about convicted sex offenders.||2004|
|Canadian Firearms Program||Provides operational support to the prevention and investigation of firearms crime and misuse.||Transferred to RCMP in 2006|
|Source: Royal Canadian Mounted Police|