Policing Canada in the 21st Century: New Policing for New Challenges

Police services around the world are embarking on a major period of change that has seen few parallels since the founding of modern policing in the 19th century. A conflation of factors some long-standing, others of more recent origin, but all significant – are now coalescing, with implications for the traditional ways in which police services have been providing safety and security for the public.  Today, there are many actors who help ensure a safe and secure environment, including technical specialists, public and private security providers, and first responders.  As such, police have begun to work within a safety and security web that requires new and dynamic partnerships, flexibility, and adaptability.  In addition, police are addressing increasingly complex and global crimes such as terrorism, identity theft, and cybercrime.  These challenges, along with increasing costs, have led many around the world and in Canada to re-examine the traditional policing model and consider what modern approaches are required to ensure effective and efficient policing for the future.

To better understand how policing may be carried out, Public Safety Canada (the Sponsor) asked the Council to undertake an expert panel assessment that brings together the available evidence from Canada and internationally.

Policing Canada in the 21st Century: New Policing for New Challenges addresses the external and internal challenges facing Canada’s police, such as the changing nature of crime, the increasingly global context in which security actors operate, the impact of social trends and associated demands for police services, human resources, policing costs, and accountability issues. The report also reviews the opportunities for responding to these challenges both within individual police organizations and across the police system as a whole.

Key Findings

  • Successful policing models require police to adapt to, and leverage, the specialized capabilities and resources in the new safety and security web.
  • Evidence-based policing and increased professionalization of police would optimize their role in the safety and security web.
  • The diversity of actors in the safety and security web creates accountability concerns that have yet to be addressed.
  • Governments can serve as enablers of safety and security by ensuring that the safety and security web serves the public interest.
  • Knowledge gaps hinder the optimization of the safety and security web.


Given the evolution of crime, the justice system, and society, what do current evidence and knowledge suggest about the future of the public policing models used in Canada?

Report and Related Products:

Expert Panel

The Expert Panel on the Future of Canadian Policing Models was chaired by Hon. Justice Stephen T. Goudge Q.C. For a complete list of panel members, visit the Expert Panel on the Future of Canadian Policing Models page.

For further information, please contact:

Tijs Creutzberg, Director of Assessments, at 613-567-5000 ext. 232 or tijs.creutzberg@scienceadvice.ca

For media inquiries, please contact:

Samantha Rae Ayoub, Communications and Publishing Director, at 613-567-5000 ext. 256 or samantha.rae@scienceadvice.ca

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