OTTAWA —Funding for a key federal criminal database is dropping this year, posing risks to public safety and police officers, critics say.
“It’s incredibly important that the funding is there and the administration of the database is meeting expectations,” said Tom Stamatakis, national president of the Canadian Police Association. “It’s important for not only police officers so they can be effective in their communities, but also from a public safety perspective.”
The Canadian Police Information Centre database, known as CPIC, is a networking tool intended to allow federal, provincial and municipal police and courts to check a suspect’s criminal history —but a years-long backlog and decreased funding is leaving some front-line law enforcement in the lurch.
CPIC houses a wide collection of databases including records relating to wanted and missing people, criminal records, stolen property, and terms and conditions of parolees and people on probation; all of those records provide vital details when working to ensure public safety in a community, Stamatakis said.
“You could have somebody who’s on some type of parole, moving from community to community,” he said, illustrating the potential dangers of a mismanaged database. “If that person has contact with the police and the police check the database to find out the person’s status but the information isn’t there, you could potentially release someone who should be arrested for breaching parole conditions.”
CPIC is the only national law enforcement system of its kind, and the RCMP has been responsible for maintaining the registry since it was launched in 1972.
The database is one of a handful of programs that fall under the RCMP’s budget line for Canadian law enforcement services, which has dropped 26 per cent, to $177.9 million in 2015-16 from $241.1 million in 2014-15, according to the federal government’s main estimates.
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