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Leading practice in police governance: Canada and abroad. Andrew Graham School of Policy Studies Queens University. What I hope to cover. Governance practice in various countries Some principles that are really important in deciding on governance

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leading practice in police governance canada and abroad

Leading practice in police governance: Canada and abroad

Andrew Graham

School of Policy Studies

Queens University

what i hope to cover
What I hope to cover
  • Governance practice in various countries
  • Some principles that are really important in deciding on governance
  • What the practice of good governance looks like – leading practice
the tensions at play
The tensions at play
  • Achieving effective civilian oversight of policing in a democratic society
  • Ensuring knowledgeable oversight and governance
  • Avoiding undue interference in police practice which is guided by criminal and civil law and overseen by the courts
  • Avoiding political interference in individual police action or the use of the police for political purposes
  • Guaranteeing adequate transparency, accountability and public support to police functions.

“The difference between “bureaucrats with guns” and law enforcement officers is simple: police are supposed to be prohibited equally from pursuit of their own desires and from acting on the whim of politicians. Unlike civil servants, they are not supposed to respond to “political masters”. Their job, simply, is to enforce the law.”

Wes Pue, “The Prime Minister’s Police? Commissioner Hughes APEC Report” (2001) 39 Osgoode Hall

no one right answer
No one right answer
  • The Canadian experience is rich and varied – lots to learn there: in some respects, among the best in the world
  • The American experience is also rich, but with little or no type of oversight such as we have – complaints and litigation driven
  • Long-standing practice in the UK and Australia with some major growth in citizen involvement in recent years
  • The Policing Board in Northern Ireland (created with much Canadian help) has been pivotal in overcoming deep animosities about the constabulary there
key characteristics of the canadian model
key characteristics of the ‘Canadian model’
  • A complex function of government: needs focused understanding.
  • Chief is an employee of the Board who supervise that person. Police commissions hire and fire the Chief.
  • The Chief reports to the board or commission not a municipal council. This ensures his independence.
  • Police boards or commissioners are the creatures of the provinces that have the legal authority over the administration of justice and are appointed through mixed processes to ensure greater representivity.
key characteristics of the canadian model7
key characteristics of the ‘Canadian model’
  • Police commissions oversee budgets for the Service and their approval by Councils does not permit interference with budget details.
  • Often the province will step in or serve as an appeal body.
  • Police commissions play an important role in ensuring public confidence in the police service.
  • Boards relate directly to the public, permit the public to make presentations to them. Many commissions actively consult the community to get their views of policing.
  • In some instance, they handle the complaint process, once internal processes have been exhausted or the complaint is about the Chief.
key characteristics of the canadian model8
key characteristics of the ‘Canadian model’
  • Police boards or commissions operate, for the most part, in public and have a direct accountability to the public. The exceptions usually involve personnel matters. After that, commission meetings are open to the public.
  • Police commissions set policy and direction for the police service. Boards have the authority to establish the strategic direction and create policies that direct how the police service will function.
  • They do not operate or direct individual investigations or even staff allocations.
some key principles
Some key principles
  • “Robust accountability structures compose one of the three basic requirements for democratic policing—the others being legitimacy and professionalism.” (Marenin, O. (2005). Building a global police studies community. Police Quarterly, 8, 99-136)
  • Governance of policing requires time and in-depth understanding of policing from a citizen perspective not a professional nor political one.
  • Governance demands a special set of skills and roles to be effective.
  • Police Commissions need to take a whole-of-community view and be neither puppets of municipal councils, voices of interest groups nor cheerleaders for the Police Service
good governance practice
Good Governance Practice
  • Corporate governance is ‘the system by which organizations are directed and controlled’.

For the public sector it embodies 6 principles:

• a clear definition of the body’s purpose and desired outcomes;

• well-defined functions and responsibilities;

• an appropriate corporate culture;

• transparent decision-making;

• a strong governance team; and

• real accountability to stakeholders

canadian association of police boards best practices
Canadian Association of Police Boards Best practices
  • Adopted three years ago
  • Field-tested in four boards, large and small
  • Represent a set of potential standards for good governance
  • A work in progress
  • But, a model is out there and being used
  • Shows strong potential to develop into good governance standards






capb best practices
CAPb best practices
  • The Right Stuff: Each board, at a minimum, needs to determine the ‘composite’ skills it requires to meet its responsibilities in such a way as to maximize success.
  • Maximizing Success: Boards needs to have continuity of tenure and systems of phased replacement to ensure continuity.
  • Conditions of Appointment: Prospective Boards members needs to fully understand the amount of time this role takes, the duties expected and the degree of engagement.
capb best practices13
CAPb best practices
  • Governance Review: Boards should review their performance in an objective way every three years.
  • Board Self-Assessment: As part of its performance review, the Board should also undertake a self-assessment of its performance.
  • Orientation: All Boards should create formal orientation packages and processes for new Board members.
capb best practices14
CAPb best practices
  • Education and Training: there has to be a regular program of education and training for board members.
  • Relationship with the Chief: A clear understanding of the respective roles of he Board and the Chief must be delineated, preferably in a formal manner.
  • Succession Planning: The Board has to ensure that there is a succession plan for the position of Chief. This is a shared responsibility.
  • Strategic Planning: The Board should ensure that the Chief puts in place a robust strategic planning process and that its role in guiding it from a policy perspective is well understood.
capb best practices15
CAPb best practices
  • Risk Management: the Board will ensure that there is a formal system of risk management in the Service.
  • Oversight: The Board will create an audit committee to determine audit scope and review audit results.
  • Accountability to Stakeholders: The Board will produce an Annual Report on its activities.
  • Responsibility to Employees: The Board will make itself available to employees of the Service at least once a year.
  • Procedural Prudence: The Board will formally adopt procedural guidelines to delineate the way it makes decisions.
sounds like common sense
Sounds like common sense
  • State of implementation: continual improvement
  • In field of governance, these look pretty good
  • Note multiple accountabilities of a police board
  • Operations and policy a grey area and always will be
  • Good governance takes time.
  • Strong tensions with appointment process.
big ticket issues
Big Ticket Issues

Arising from the Practices Themselves……..

  • Governance Reviews – a concern for costs and benefits
  • Underlying utility of competency profiles – can they affect Board composition?
  • Self-assessment will involve a cultural shift towards more conscious governance
  • Education and Training – when is enough, what can we afford?
  • Succession Planning – for whom?
  • Risk management is a new field – Police Boards are not alone
  • Oversight – by whom and for what?
if governance is so important why is canadian practice so varied
If Governance is so Important, why is Canadian Practice so Varied
  • It is and it isn’t: major diversion is Quebec, Manitoba and Newfoundland: all other provinces with municipal policing have boards or commissions.
  • All other provinces have some form of oversight which is clouded by the role of the RCMP in contracted policing
  • Major gaps: RCMP, SQ, OPP and Winnipeg
  • Anticipate change with the RCMP soon
closing thoughts
Closing thoughts
  • Setting police governance is a provincial matter as part of its responsibility for the administration of justice
  • Police Acts are being upgraded across the country: note Alberta, Nova Scotia and Ontario recently: all have enhanced police oversight
  • Manitoba’s legislation is overdue for modernization
closing thoughts20
Closing thoughts
  • While it is desirable for the city to be engaged in the process of getting the best police governance, it remains a provincial responsibility to provide the leadership
  • Ultimately, this is not about the money, as important an issue as that is – witness the recent FCM publication on policing costs
  • But, if you think you can use governance to reduce police costs, think again – good governance can create better financial accountability and deeper budgetary control, but the cost of policing will continue to rise