Article by Breanna Roycroft, Lift
Statistics Canada, in partnership with a number of police forces across the country, recently undertook an ambitious pilot project. “Measuring Organized Crime in Canada” set out to identify gaps and opportunities in current data collection methods at the community level with regards to organized crime. The hope of this project was to better understand to what extend criminal activity is linked to organized crime. It also hopes to strengthen local capacity to capture data in order to better inform policing and policy decisions moving forward.
Like many data-related reports released by the Federal Government, the authors rightly identify first and foremost the need for an overall increase in quality, quantity and consistency of data collection.
For the cannabis community, the report is of interest in part for how cannabis related offences are — or are not — linked to organized crime. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, the report should be of interest to those in the cannabis community eager to quantitatively support the case for legalisation. The Trudeau government has been consistent in their message that cannabis legalisation is motivated by the desire to take cannabis profits out of the hands of criminals. In order to show success on this metric post-legalisation, we first need a solid baseline.
The report concludes with seven concrete steps to be taken at the local police force level in order to strengthen their capacity for data collection. The report is particularly interested in organized crime, however most of the recommendations — such as centralizing data review and verification within police stations, and embedding analysts within crime units to mitigate information gaps — will be useful for tracking criminal activity of types.
The first phase of the pilot project called on local police forces to flag organized criminal activity associated with any murder-related crime (first and second degree murder, manslaughter, attempted murder, etc). Building on this, the second phase asked police to flag incidences of drug trafficking and drug production associated with organized crime.