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Decision on Surrey Police Service ensures public safety in Surrey, the province

CANADA, July 19 - The Province is securing safety and providing certainty for people in Surrey and throughout British Columbia by directing the City of Surrey to move forward with the Surrey Police Service.

The minister of public safety and solicitor general has carefully considered the city’s corporate report on moving back to the Surrey RCMP. The minister has determined that for the second time, the city has failed to demonstrate that moving back to the RCMP will be safe and not affect other communities throughout the province, thereby not meeting the requirements imposed on the process.

This decision was made under Section 2 of the Police Act, which states that the minister of public safety and solicitor general must ensure that adequate and effective law enforcement is maintained throughout the province. The decision was made to avoid a crisis in policing in Surrey, which would have pulled officers from other parts of the province as officers are redeployed to fill critical gaps.

“People’s safety, in Surrey and across the province, is non-negotiable. The city has failed to meet the requirements I placed to prevent a situation where there are not enough police officers to keep people safe in Surrey,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “We cannot allow people in Surrey or in other communities to be put at risk. British Columbians need to know that when they call the police, help will come – and people in Surrey want this uncertainty over who will police their city to end, and to know that they will be safe in their community.”

Based on documents provided by the city, the minister concluded that the city failed to meet the requirements to prevent an exodus of Surrey Police Service officers, or to staff up the Surrey RCMP without pulling RCMP officers from other communities. The RCMP continues to experience a critical vacancy problem in British Columbia and across Canada. This issue is longstanding, and the RCMP has been unable to produce officers to fill vacant positions or implement solutions to meet expected growth.

“The Surrey Police Service is the only path forward to ensuring the safety of the people of Surrey, as well as people across the province, and for putting in place the long-term, stable policing they need,” Farnworth said. “Effective collaboration between the city, the Surrey Police Service and the RCMP is essential to continue the transition, and I have made it clear to all parties that I expect them to work together to achieve our common goal of safety for people in Surrey.”

In order to facilitate moving forward with the Surrey Police Service, the minister has appointed Jessica McDonald as the strategic implementation advisor, fulfilling a key requirement put in place by the minister. McDonald has extensive experience in organizational transformation as well as federal and provincial public-sector leadership. In this role, she will aid parties in meeting timelines, facilitate dispute resolution, and ensure effective communication and completion of the transition to the Surrey Police Service. 

The Province has recommitted to providing the city with $150 million to help offset the costs of moving forward with the Surrey Police Service, so that costs are not passed on to residents and businesses. Further, this summer the minister will begin consultation on legislation being considered for the fall to ensure that this type of situation never happens again.

Quick Facts: 

  • The Surrey Police Service is the second largest municipal police department in the Province after the Vancouver Police Department with 400 sworn officers and support staff.
  • In 2018, City of Surrey council decided to move away from Surrey’s RCMP police model and opt for its own municipal police department, the Surrey Police Service.
  • The minister of public safety and solicitor general approved the city’s transition plan in February 2020, and the City of Surrey has been implementing the transition since that time.
  • The integrated RCMP/Surrey Police Service transition period began in November 2021 with the first Surrey Police Service officers being operationally deployed .
  • In November 2022, the City of Surrey’s newly elected mayor and council decided to maintain the RCMP as its police model and reverse the transition.
  • The ministry commissioned an independent financial analysis that concluded that Surrey Police Service would cost approximately $30 million more per year than the RCMP.
  • The Province remains committed to providing $150 million to help offset these additional costs.

Learn More:

To read the Police Act, visit: https://www.bclaws.gov.bc.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/96367_01

To learn more about the Province’s recommendation to continue the transition to the Surrey Police Service, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2023PSSG0033-000623

To read the director of police services’ public report, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/Police_Model_Transition_Report.pdf