A Macro Perspective on Police Oversight in British Columbia: An Exploratory Study of the Dynamics and Financial Cost of Accountability

Date created: 
Canadian police
Police oversight
Police oversight models
Complaints against police
Costs of oversight
Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Independent civilian oversight of police has had rapid growth over the past decade in response to a number of high profile cases of police misconduct and public dissatisfaction with internal police investigations. The dynamics of the oversight process, however, have not been studied. This study examines the oversight of Royal Canadian Mounted Police and municipal police in the Province of British Columbia. This includes the financial cost of oversight, trends in public complaints against the police and the benefits and challenges of the current oversight system. The role of oversight in increasing police accountability, improving public confidence and shifting police behavior is also examined. Thirteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with persons from oversight agencies, police unions, special interest groups and professional standards units. The findings reveal the cost of police oversight has increased by 93.6% over five years. Municipal police spend more on oversight per year despite having three times less police strength than the RCMP. Major challenges facing the system include timely processing of complaints, the administrative burden of minor complaints, the difficulty in determining return on investment, and the two-tier complaint model within the province.

Document type: 
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes. Copyright remains with the author.
Curt Griffiths
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.