Police Administration Survey (PAS)

Detailed information for 2016





Record number:


The objective of this survey is to collect baseline information on police personnel and expenditures to enable detection of historical trends as well as permit comparisons at the provincial/territorial and municipal levels. The data are intended for police services, for officials with responsibility for police budgets, for policy-makers with policing-related responsibilities, and for members of the general public.

Data release - March 29, 2017


This survey collects data from police services across Canada under the authority of the Statistics Act, Revised Statutes of Canada, 1985, Chapter S-19. All municipal, provincial and federal police services in Canada are surveyed.

Respondents provide the number of police officers employed by the service (full-time equivalents), categorized by rank (senior officers, non-commissioned officers, and constables) and by sex. Information on hirings, departures, and eligibility to retire is provided, as are data on the years of service, age, level of education at time of hire, and Aboriginal and visible minority status of police officers, and the official and non-official languages they speak. Police services also report their number of civilian employees, categorized by job type and by sex. Other questions collect data on operating expenditures broken down into salaries/wages, benefits, and other operating expenditures.

Data from this survey provide information on total expenditures on policing and the number of officers in each province and in Canada as a whole, as well as the number of officers per 100,000 population.

The data are intended for police services, for officials with responsibility for police budgets, for policy-makers with policing-related responsibilities, and for members of the general public.

Statistical activity

The survey is currently administered as part of the National Justice Statistics Initiative (NJSI). Since 1981, the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Deputy Ministers responsible for the administration of justice in Canada, with the Chief Statistician, have been working together in an enterprise known as the National Justice Statistics Initiative. The mandate of the NJSI is to provide information to the justice community as well as the public on criminal and civil justice in Canada. Although this responsibility is shared among Federal, Provincial and Territorial departments, the lead responsibility for the development of Canada's statistical system remains with Statistics Canada.


  • Crime and justice
  • Justice system spending

Data sources and methodology

Target population

All Canadian municipal, provincial and federal police services that were active on May 15th of the survey year.

The target population and observed population are the same.

Instrument design

For municipal and provincial police services, a questionnaire is used. The questionnaire is a paper-and-pencil respondent-completed instrument. Some questions ask for a single number (e.g. the number of male constables or the dollar amount spent on salaries), while closed response questions are presented in the form of check-boxes. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) submit data electronically.

This survey was designed and developed in 1962, with collaboration from the Chiefs of Police. The survey was tested by consulting questionnaire design specialists, as well as the policing community. Any changes to the survey are made with consultation from police respondents.


This survey is a census with a cross-sectional design.

Data are collected for all units of the target population, therefore no sampling is done.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2016-04-22 to 2016-06-01

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

Data are captured from the paper questionnaire into an application, and the first set of edits checks for legibility, verifies totals and compares the submitted data to the previous year, to check for any significant changes. In cases where the data provided are either not legible or exceeds predetermined tolerances, contact with the respondent is initiated to clarify survey responses. Edits are in place to identify incorrect totals and invalid respondent codes. In case a variation is deemed acceptable after contacting the respondent, a comment is added to those records explaining the reasons. Once all the data has been captured, tolerance and outlier edit programs are run against the data to identify any data falling out of the prescribed tolerance range. Such cases are resolved after verifying the respondent status for the current year. Any jurisdictional changes are taken into account when resolving data issues.

Historical trend comparisons are made to identify any other anomalies.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s).

Error detection

After data capture, edits are run on the data to identify missing, invalid or inconsistent entries, or data records that were in error. There are three types of edits used; additive edits, tolerance edits, and year to year edits.


Each year, a small number of police services do not respond to the survey. Prior to 2015, if data for a non-responding police service were available for the previous year, then the historical data were used to represent the current year. In 2015 and 2016, imputations were made by calculating a ratio of total police officers in the current year and previous year by the province/territory and type of service (municipal, first nations, etc.). This ratio is a multiplicative factor applied to the previous year's data to obtain the current year estimates for the respondent. If data for the respondent is also missing in the previous year, then no imputation is done.


This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.

Quality evaluation

Data quality is evaluated by doing historical trend analyses of key variables. Historical analyses of rates are done based on personnel and expenditure data (police per 100,000 population, per capita costs, etc.). Police-civilian ratios and male-female ratios are also checked over time to verify historical consistency. Overall per capita costs are derived and analyzed historically.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects which could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

A cover letter requesting their participation and an authorization form confirming their signed permission to publicly release the data is sent to each police service.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

Each year, some respondents send in revisions to data submitted in previous years. These revisions may result from internal audits done by the respondents, or they may result from data quality queries initiated by the survey manager. If there is inconsistency in the year-over-year data comparisons, the respondent may review the information sent by them in previous years and decide to revise them. In some cases, revisions are made to correct prior misinterpretation of definitions.

Data accuracy

This survey has a response rate of approximately 98%.

Non-response error is related to respondents that may refuse to answer, are unable to respond or are too late in reporting. In these cases, data are imputed. The extent of any imputation error decreases with increases in the response rate and attempts are therefore made to obtain as high a response rate as possible while minimizing the response burden.

Processing error may occur at various stages of processing such as in data entry. Measures have been taken to minimize these errors. Processing errors are minimal due to consistency edits built into the processing system. Edits are in place to verify totals and invalid respondent codes. A respondent level tolerance edit process has been built into the data capture system to identify anomalies.

Coverage error can result from incorrect addresses of police services or absence of contact information for new police services. To prevent coverage error and limit its impact, the Police Administration Survey frame is updated on a regular basis by communicating with police services about any changes to their police service (amalgamations, turnover of staff, boundary changes).

Data response error may be due to questionnaire design, the characteristics of a question, inability or unwillingness of the respondent to provide correct information, misinterpretation of the questions or definitional problems. These errors are controlled through careful questionnaire design and the use of simple concepts and consistency checks. However, since the respondents and/or their staff have been changing quickly due to amalgamations and regular turnover, some lack the background to ensure consistency. Therefore, the survey analyst is conscious of the need to monitor reporting and to discuss any anomalies with the police services in question. Detection of data errors is done at a very early stage. As soon as a survey response is received, the responses are compared to the previous year's data and if necessary, a trend analysis is done. Jurisdictional changes are kept in mind when doing these checks. If a response is over a tolerance range, the respondent is called and explanations and/or changes are made as a result. In some cases, part-time employees are not converted to full-time equivalents and this is resolved after discussing it with the respondent.

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