British Columbians Ambiguous About Province-Wide Police Force

Seven-in-ten residents (70%) support increasing the use of closed circuit television (CCTV) in their community.

Vancouver, BC [July 12, 2022] – Residents of British Columbia are split when assessing if a province-wide police force that would replace the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) should be created, a new Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative provincial sample, 39% of British Columbians agree with this idea, while 38% disagree and 23% are undecided.

Earlier this year, the all-party Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act in the Legislative Assembly issued a report which recommended the establishment of a BC-wide police force that would replace the RCMP.

At least two-in-five residents of Northern BC (45%), the Fraser Valley (43%), Vancouver Island (also 43%) and Metro Vancouver (40%) are in favour of instituting a BC-wide police force. Support is decidedly lower in Southern BC (26%).

The concept of “defunding the police” calls for divesting funds from police departments and reallocating them to non-policing forms of public safety and community support. Almost half of British Columbians (49%) agree with this idea, while 38% disagree and 14% are not sure.

Support for “defunding the police” is highest among BC Green Party voters in the last provincial election (66%). The level of agreement is lower among British Columbians who cast ballots for the BC New Democratic Party (NDP) (53%) or the BC Liberals (50%) in 2020.

Seven-in-ten British Columbians (70%) agree with increasing the use of closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras in their community as a means of surveillance to help deter and solve crimes.

Compared to a similar Research Co. poll conducted in November 2021, there are no changes in the perceptions of British Columbians on two issues: almost half (48%) continue to fear becoming victims of crime in their community “a great deal” or “a fair amount” and 63% would feel “very safe” or “moderately safe” walking alone in their own neighbourhood after dark.

This month, fear of crime is highest in Northern BC (52%, +3), followed by Metro Vancouver (51%, -3), Southern BC (48%, +16),  the Fraser Valley (45%, +4) and Vancouver Island (40%, -1).

Fewer than one-in-five British Columbians (18%, -2) say they have been victims of a crime involving the police (such as an assault or a car break-in) in their community over the past four years.

Just over half of British Columbians (51%, +7) believe that the level of criminal activity in their community has increased in the past four years—a proportion that jumps to 62% in Southern BC.

British Columbians continue to support the authorization of two bans in their municipality: one on military-style assault weapons (82%, -2) and another one on handguns (75%, -4).

More than half of British Columbians (51%, +3) think addiction and mental health issues are to blame “a great deal” for the current situation regarding crime in their community.

Fewer residents of the province blame other factors, such as gangs and the illegal drug trade (37%, -1), poverty and inequality (32%, +1), an inadequate court system (32%, +2), lack of values and improper education for youth (27%, =), a bad economy and unemployment (24%, +4), insufficient policing and a lack of resources to combat crime (also 22%, +2) and immigrants and minorities (8%, -1).

Methodology: Results are based on an online study 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.

Find our data tables here and download the press release here. 

For more information on this poll, please contact:

Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.

778.929.0490 [e]