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Police-reported clearance rates in Canada, 2010

TitlePolice-reported clearance rates in Canada, 2010
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsHotton, T., and Turner J.

Police agencies provide a range of important services to the public, including responding to emergencies, building relationships with local communities, reducing crime and promoting public safety. However, the investigation of criminal offences leading to the identification and apprehension of offenders remains one of the primary functions of police (Paré et al. 2007). The effectiveness of police in performing this function is primarily measured through the clearance rate. Previous research suggests that the likelihood that a criminal incident is cleared, or solved, by police may be influenced by a number of factors, including the type of offence being investigated, characteristics of the incident, police workload, the size and organizational structure of the local police service, as well as the characteristics of the communities they serve (Paré et al. 2007, Ouimet and Paré 2003). Investigating and solving crime is one of the primary responsibilities of police services. Deterrence is one of the fundamental principles of law, premised on the idea that if offenders can avoid detection, they may be more likely to commit crime (Apel and Nagin 2011). For this reason, clearance rates have been used as one of many possible ways to measure police performance. Further, clearance rates have often been used by police services, as well as government, when assessing the resource needs of law enforcement (McCormick et al. 2012, Hollins 2007). However, clearance rates are only one measure of police effectiveness, one which cannot capture the full range of service delivery functions undertaken by police service agencies (Paré et al. 2007, Ouimet and Paré 2003). Other commonly used measures of police performance include: level of crime in the community, offences per officer, response times, budget variance, population per officer (OMBI 2011), citizen satisfaction with local police services and public feelings of safety and security (Swindell and Kelly 2000). This Juristat examines the options available to police for clearing an incident, clearance rates by type of offence, trends over time, as well as variation in clearance rates across the provinces and territories and police services

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