British Columbians split on idea of a provincial police force, poll finds

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British Columbians are divided on the idea of replacing the RCMP with a provincial police force, according to a new poll.

The survey, conducted by B.C.-based Research Co., found British Columbians locked in a statistical tie over the issue, with 39 per cent in support and 38 per cent opposed. Nearly a quarter of British Columbians, 23 per cent, were undecided.

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In April, an all-party committee reviewing B.C.’s Police Act recommended the province end its policing agreement with the RCMP and replace it with a B.C. police service.

The concept was most popular in northern B.C. (45 per cent), the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island (43 per cent) and Metro Vancouver (40 per cent).

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Residents of southern B.C. were the least interested in a provincial police force, with just 26 per cent in favour.

Research Co. also polled British Columbians on the ‘defund the police’ movement, asking residents if they agreed with calls “for divesting funds from police departments and reallocating them to non-policing forms of public safety and community support.”

Nearly half of respondents (49 per cent) agreed, while 38 per cent were opposed and 14 per cent unsure.

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BC Green Party (66 per cent) voters were the most supportive of the idea, compared with 53 per cent of NDP voters and 50 per cent of BC Liberal voters in the 2020 election.

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The poll also found widespread backing for more use of closed-circuit TV cameras as a way to deter and solve crime, with 77 per cent support.

The poll was conducted from July 4 to July 6, 2022, among 800 adults in British Columbia. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in Canada. The margin of error — which measures sample variability — is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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