Vancouver police criticized over audit of social services


The launch of a Vancouver Police Department report casting doubt on the worth and effectivity of a broad vary of social services has prompted issues in regards to the growing encroachment of regulation enforcement companies into politics.

Over current months, the general public has seen Vancouver police meet with federal Conservative chief Pierre Polievre and make an unprecedented mayoral endorsement forward of town’s municipal election.

Criminologist Rob Gordon stated the division’s new report, Vancouver’s Social Safety Net: Rebuilding the Broken, seems to be one other break with the historically accepted function of police. 

“Police and politics don’t combine,” stated Gordon, himself a former police officer. “They are oil and water, they need to be handled that method. You simply can not permit there to be any slippage.”

While Gordon argued there might be room for extra oversight within the supply of social services, he questioned the knowledge of having regulation enforcement lead that cost.

“Why would not others do it as an alternative, so there may be no less than an air of full independence?” he requested.

Vancouver police have launched experiences on social points earlier than, and known as for higher co-ordination between service suppliers, however their newest marks a departure in that it is based mostly on a third-party monetary audit the division quietly commissioned final yr.


The audit, carried out by Alberta-based HelpSeeker, estimated $5.1 billion is spent yearly to run numerous companies, charities, non-profits and different organizations serving to Vancouver residents.

The VPD’s report factors to the persistent points of drug overdose deaths and homelessness as indications that public funding might be higher spent – although practically half of the audit’s $5.1 billion determine comes from direct authorities transfers, comparable to pension funds and tax advantages, and from town’s personal police and hearth division budgets.

Police nonetheless highlighted that eyebrow-raising determine repeatedly of their report, evaluating it to the “annual working finances of the National Hockey League” and noting it might fund “the development prices of three brand-new Dallas Cowboys stadiums,” in two examples seemingly designed to indicate bloated spending.

Police Chief Adam Palmer made that implication specific throughout a information convention presenting the findings Wednesday.

“Our researchers discovered an absence of transparency, an absence of co-ordination between companies, and an absence of accountability from numerous ranges of authorities to ensure the cash is spent on the individuals who want it probably the most,” Palmer stated.

“Despite extra discuss than ever and extra money within the system, it’s bleaker than ever for a rising quantity of individuals in locations just like the Downtown Eastside.”

Palmer additionally steered the provincial authorities must be taking cost, and particularly famous that former lawyer basic David Eby, the NDP MLA for Vancouver’s Point Grey driving, is about to grow to be the following premier later this month.

Still, the police chief insisted the division had no political motivation in commissioning or releasing the report.

“We’re not political entities. I do not report back to any politicians,” Palmer stated.

“To me, it would not matter who the federal government of the day is. I’ll simply name it how it’s and be fairly frank about it, and that is what I’m doing.”

Gordon wasn’t the one one who suspected a political motivation behind the report. Coun. Pete Fry slammed the findings on Twitter, and steered the intent was to “galvanize austerity and cuts to service under the guise of DTES accountability.”

“But what it really begs is accountability from the VPD,” Fry wrote.

Beyond Vancouver, Gordon stated he is noticed a worrying development of a “creeping politicization of policing” throughout Canada, together with within the RCMP – and that does not embody the rising quantity of former officers being elected to political workplace.

One of the risks in police turning into actively concerned in politics is the erosion of the general public’s notion of their impartiality, Gordon stated, which he described as a vital facet of police work that has been rigorously cultivated going again to nineteenth century London.

“The police are the general public and the general public are the police, and you aren’t getting them entangled right into a political mud bathtub as a result of there isn’t a method of getting out clear. Everyone’s going to get splattered,” he stated.


Chief Palmer waved off criticism of the audit’s methodology, telling reporters it was nonetheless a piece in progress and solely launched publicly this week as a result of it had already been leaked to the media.

But the division’s intention was to launch it will definitely, Palmer stated.

The report was rapidly picked aside on-line, and HelpSeeker acknowledged a quantity of different gaps and points with its audit, together with that it captured entities such because the Legal Services Society which have headquarters in Vancouver however function throughout the province.

Company co-founder Alina Turner additionally famous HelpSeeker didn’t gather any knowledge on the efficacy of the charities and services included within the audit, or on the experiences of the individuals who use them.

“We agree these are important inputs. This report is the primary of an ideally two-phase challenge,” Turner stated on the identical information convention.

“It’s as much as you as a neighborhood to resolve whether or not you are getting the outcomes you need for the efforts and investments which are being made, not me.”

HelpSeeker is a tech firm that guarantees to deal with complicated social points utilizing knowledge and software program. One facet of that work contains the creation of key efficiency indicators (KPIs) for charities and non-profits to trace their efficiency.

CTV News requested HelpSeeker whether or not the corporate has used KPIs prior to now to measure its personal effectiveness, and was informed the corporate makes use of them internally – for issues comparable to shopper satisfaction, quantity of services mapped, and “enhance in understanding of the social infrastructure visibility” – however wouldn’t wish to take credit score for any potential enhancements made within the supply of social services.

“To hyperlink our work on to a correlation is not at all times a straightforward factor to do,” stated Jesse Donaldson, govt vice-president of development. “But I do suppose we now have a optimistic impression within the communities we work in.” 


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