Policing in Ontario
Learn about the roles, standards and responsibilities of police services to ensure the safety of our communities.
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- set the standards for police services
- spell out who is responsible for police services how they will operate
The Police Services Act
- gives municipalities the responsibility for providing police services
- gives the Ministry of the Solicitor General the responsibility for interpreting the act and regulations, as well as the responsibility for inspecting the activities of Ontario’s police services
- identifies core activities for policing in Ontario
- describes six principles for police services to follow in carrying out those activities
Ontario’s police services:
- prevent crime
- enforce our laws
- help victims
- keep public order
- respond to emergencies
Ontario is the first province in Canada to have a Declaration of Principles written into its statutes. Ontario’s police are committed to the following six principles:
- Ensuring the safety and security of all people and property in Ontario.
- Safeguarding the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Ontario Human Rights Code.
- Working closely with the communities they serve.
- Respecting victims of crime and working to understand their needs.
- Being sensitive to the diverse, multiracial and multicultural character of Ontario society.
- Ensuring that police services are representative of the communities they serve.
The role of municipalities
Municipalities can provide police services for their citizens in several ways. They can:
- set up their own police service
- arrange with one or more municipalities to have a joint police service for the area
- hire the police service of another municipality
- hire the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP)
There are 44 municipal police services in Ontario, in addition to the OPP, for a total of 45. There are also nine self-administered First Nations police services in Ontario.
The role of the Ministry of the Solicitor General
The Ministry of the Solicitor General has a wide range of responsibilities for policing in Ontario. Under the act, the ministry is responsible for the following:
- Inspecting police services to make sure they comply with the act.
- The Ontario Police College, which trains police recruits and offers advanced training for experienced police officers and civilian employees of police services.
- The Ontario Provincial Police, which provides police services in some municipalities plus police service on the province’s highways, trails and waterways.
- Researching criminal justice trends that affect policing.
- Overseeing the Ontario operations of the Canadian Police Information Centre. This is a national database of information on wanted and missing persons, stolen vehicles and other crime-related issues.
Standards for police services
The standards that police services must meet are set out in the act and regulations such as the Adequacy and Effectiveness of Police Services regulation.
The Ministry of the Solicitor General maintains guidelines to help municipalities, police services boards, and police services understand how to follow the act and regulations. The guidelines:
- explains the ministry’s position on policy issues
- makes recommendations for police service board policies, police service procedures and programs
- helps police services coordinate their activities
- encourages community-oriented police services
- promotes professional police practices, standards and training
Inspecting Ontario’s police
The act gives the ministry the responsibility for inspecting Ontario’s police services. This ensures that communities in Ontario receive a consistent, high standard of policing. The ministry:
- regularly checks on police services to make sure they follow the act, the regulations and the guidelines
- helps local police service boards, community policing advisory committees, municipal chiefs of police to resolve questions or issues about policing and police services
Police service advisors
Police services advisors help municipal governments, police services and police services boards consider their options for providing local police services. The advisors:
- are always in contact with police services to help them solve problems
- train local police services boards to help them understand their responsibilities
Use of force race data collection
Under the Anti-Racism Act, the ministry is required to collect data on the race of people who have experienced a use of force when interacting with the police, and a Use of Force Report is completed by a member of a police force.
Use of Force Reports are completed by the police and examples of when a report is required include use of a firearm or another weapon. Data collected by the ministry from the report must also include other information that police are legally required to provide to the ministry, except the individual’s name. All information gathered will be used to support the objectives of the Anti-Racism Act to identify, monitor and address potential systemic racism and to advance racial equity while maintaining the privacy and protection of any individuals included.
The Use of Force Report requires police to state their perception of the person’s race. The reports are reviewed by designated staff within the police service, and their chief of police, or designate, is required to submit information from the report to the ministry.
For questions about use of force race data collection, please contact the ministry’s Public Safety Division at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario
Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario (CISO) is a partnership between the Ontario government and the law enforcement community. It brings together police services and provincial and federal government agencies to identify and tackle organized crime across the province.
The CISO is part of a Canadian network of similar organizations that make up Criminal Intelligence Service Canada (CISC).
What the CISO does
CISO links organizations that are responsible for:
- intelligence gathering
- criminal investigation
- enforcing provincial and federal laws
These connections make it possible for police and government to work together effectively to fight organized crime.
It also provides specialized intelligence training to police officers and funding to support major organized crime investigations targeting:
- street gangs
- illegal drug manufacturing
- weapons and cigarette smuggling
- auto theft rings
- money laundering
- illegal gambling
- identity theft
- black marketing
- human trafficking and human exploitation