WRPS: About Our Data

Some of the contents of this page and the attachments have been updated as of December 2016.

Scroll to end to download a printable version of this page.

Disclaimer: The following document provides a description of the main Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) data sources, how each data set is used internally, and the limitations inherent within this raw data. WRPS regularly uses this data to publish, analyze, evaluate, and guide our organization’s evidence-based and intelligence-led decision making and performance management.

Everyone who uses the information provided herein agrees to abide by the terms of use, which include reading all of the information found within this Disclaimer, as well as the "Require Reading" sections of this document.

Users of this data are responsible for reading and acknowledging the limitations of this data. WRPS discourages linking this data to any other outside dataset. Any statements, conclusions, or publications based upon this WRPS data made by non-WRPS employees are made without the authorization of WRPS and are not the opinion of the WRPS.

Required Reading:

The Science of Police Deployment
Since 2009, Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) has been working to quantify the expectations and demands of our community on our front-line patrol officers and our communications centre, to measure the current level of service we are providing to our community, and deliver changes necessary to meet improved performance goals. In the spirit of public transparency and accountability, WRPS has also taken great efforts to share with our community as much police data as possible while balancing mandated confidentiality.

This document provides a description of our main data sources, how each data set is used, some of the limitations inherent within each data source, links on how to access this data and other relevant resources.

WRPS Data Sources
Computer Aided Dispatched (CAD) System – WRPS uses the Intergraph CAD software to start an occurrence, dispatch our officers, and maintain the status of all logged-in units. The creation of any new occurrence number in CAD is considered a “CAD event” regardless of the source. CAD events may be generated from calls coming into the Communications Centre from a non-emergency line, from a 9-1-1 phone line, or initiated by an officer. A call may be cancelled, duplicated from multiple people reporting the same incident, taken over the phone by our resource desk, of a nature requiring a police report to be prepared or concluded with no report being necessary.

Due to the nature of “dispatching”, this CAD data is very raw, uses many different codes, and changes constantly. Many fields in CAD may not get populated due to lack of information, emergent situations, unique circumstances, evolving incidents and lack of necessity (for example, there is no dispatch data if no units are dispatched, or if a unit is already on-scene). Once an occurrence is closed in our CAD system, this CAD data is no longer updated.

One of the main fields of CAD data used for analysis is the call or occurrence “type”. These call for service statistics are useful indicators of the demand on police resources, but do not represent actual criminal activity. It is important to remember that police are required by the Ontario Police Services Act not only to enforce laws, but also to prevent crime, provide assistance to victims, respond to emergencies and conduct public order maintenance. The majority of calls for service that patrol officers respond to are not criminal in nature.

Traditionally, WRPS maintained a “call for service” database of our CAD data with one row of data for each call, including when the call was created, when the first unit arrived, and when the last unit cleared. In November 2008, WRPS went live with our new Intergraph CAD system and used this opportunity to capture more detailed CAD data necessary to pursue the science of measuring police performance.  At this time, new priorities, new call subtypes, and several new CAD occurrence types were added to better measure and manage our workload. Our databases for analysis have now expanded to include data on every single unit that is dispatched, and each individual unit’s dispatch data. We now distinguish between citizen-generated calls for service, which are CAD events initiated by a member of our community to which WRPS dispatches an officer(s) to respond, and officer-initiated calls for service, which are CAD events started by a member of our service. The rate of citizen generated calls for service is an independent measure of patrol’s workload driven by our community. This has provided more in-depth and useful data for measuring our level of service to the public, and the changing expectations and demands on our front-line patrol officers.

Records Management System (RMS) – WRPS uses Niche software as our RMS system. Once an occurrence is closed in our CAD system, it is rolled into Niche RMS. Niche RMS is a complex operational police system that manages information in relation to people, locations, vehicles, organizations, incidents, and property/evidence. Data in Niche RMS is continually entered and updated, and is the primary database of information stored, updated, and used by WRPS members and other police agencies.

Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) - The UCR Survey, conducted by Statistics Canada since 1962, is based on nationally defined police-reported crime. For every criminal incident in our Niche RMS, UCR codes are applied. Every police service across Canada is mandated to submit their UCR data to Statistics Canada. Due to the length of investigations, follow-up, evidence processing, unique internal processes, and the complexity of crime, police services are given until March 31st each year to submit their year-end UCR statistics. Statistics Canada then runs a variety of verification processes, and their tables and reports for the previous year’s crime statistics begin to be published near the end of July.

Statistics Canada produces a variety of annual reports and special studies using UCR data. A few of their main indicators are police reported crime rates, crime severity index (CSI), and clearance rates. In most Statistics Canada publications, the crime rate and CSI is based on their Most Serious Violation (MSV) counting methodology. According to Statistics Canada, “counting only the most serious offence in an incident results in better historical comparisons and better comparisons between police services…” However, counting incidents based on the most serious offence rather than individual offences results in some offences being slightly underrepresented. This has little or no effect on serious violent offences, such as homicide, sexual assault and aggravated assault. However, some but not all, minor offences are less likely to be the most serious offence when occurring with other offences and, therefore, being included in the calculation of crime rates”. (p.6, Police-reported crime statistics in Canada, 2012).

It is also important to note that in Statistics Canada’s annual Police-reported crime statistics in Canada Juristat, the statistics presented are based on a national, provincial/territorial or census metropolitan area (CMA) geography. The Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo CMA is not the same as the Regional Municipality of Waterloo served by the Waterloo Regional Police Service; it does not include the townships of Wellesley or Wilmot and it does include crime reported by the RCMP and OPP within the CMA. Many other CMAs have geographies that are different than the boundaries of its police service(s).

There are other factors which may influence the total number of police-reported offences as noted in Text box 2 of the Police-reported crime statistics in Canada Juristat, 2013. Our Service’s proactive projects and enforcement initiatives, and the enhanced and strategic use of available resources may affect some statistics such as impaired driving, drugs or prostitution as examples. Our community’s confidence and trust in the criminal justice system will also impact how much crime goes unreported to the police. It should be noted that some offence types are reported to and addressed through avenues other than the police and the criminal code such as municipal bylaw officers, municipal public works offices and private security firms and may therefore not be included in these data (p.8 Police-reported crime statistics in Canada, 2013).  

The clearance rate, defined by Statistics Canada, “represents the proportion of criminal incidents solved by the police. Police can clear an incident by charge or by means other than the laying of a charge. For an incident to be cleared by charge, at least one accused must have been identified and either a charge has been laid, or recommended to be laid, against this individual in connection with the incident. For an incident to be cleared otherwise, an accused must be identified and there must be sufficient evidence to lay a charge in connection with the incident, but the accused is processed by other means for one of many reasons.” For other definitions of common terms used in Statistics Canada’s Juristats, click here.

The Crime Severity Index is another way in which police-reported crime is measured by Statistics Canada. The index measures the seriousness of crime, while the crime rate measures the volume of crime. The index is further divided into violent and non-violent offences. According to Statistics Canada, “all crimes are assigned a weight based on their seriousness. The level of seriousness is based on actual sentences handed down by the courts in all provinces and territories. More serious crimes are assigned higher weights, less serious offences lower weights. As a result, more serious offences have a greater impact on changes in the index. The index is standardized to 100 in base year 2006.” (Statistics Canada’s CANSIM Table 252-0085 footnotes). See also a video titled "Measuring crime in Canada: A detailed look at the Crime Severity Index" by clicking here.

Statistics Canada has recently posted more detailed crime data tables publically on their website, including the Crime Severity Index for Waterloo Region, both violent and non-violent. These and other “CANSIM” tables can now be found by clicking here.

WRPS also publishes an annual summary of Criminal Offences based on the UCR 2.2 Survey specific to the jurisdiction of the Waterloo Regional Police Service. This report is posted on our website as part of the Annual Report and is generated directly from our Niche RMS system. The numbers in this report differ slightly from Statistics Canada’s numbers. Crime statistics may be modified and/or cleared long after the incident occurred and are continually updated in our RMS. For these reasons, the WRPS Criminal Offence Summary re-states the previous years’ numbers for accuracy.

WRPS Occurrence Mapping
WRPS has taken great efforts to share with our community as much police data as possible. In 2010, interactive pdf maps of many police calls for service were posted on the WRPS website every two weeks. To update and further provide more timely, interactive, and searchable features to all members of the public, a fully interactive web mapping solution was launched in April 2012. This mapping solution is available on our website under Maps.

The mapped police calls for service data are based on the final CAD call types extracted from our RMS. This data is updated daily but seven days retroactive (for example, on May 30, data from May 23 will be uploaded). This data represents the full extent of police call information that can be publically released within the limitations of the privacy legislation and the protection of victim identification. The police call data on our external website was established to provide all members of the public, students, and our partner agencies access to the releasable WRPS call data, along with the ability to query it by geographical location, time, and type, based on their own unique needs and interests. WRPS also continues to provide this open and freely accessible interactive mapping tool to create ongoing awareness of trends in police calls for service and crime prevention.

WRPS Occurrence Data
To further complement the WRPS Occurrence Mapping tool, a detailed data file is being posted once a year for members of the public who are interested in further data analysis. Each file will include one full year of Occurrence Data sourced from a combination of both CAD and RMS data. Similar to the information provided on the mapping tool, it represents the full extent of police call information that can be publically released within the limitations of the privacy legislation.

Due to investigative integrity and verification process concerns, the yearly occurrence data will only be posted following the annual Statistics Canada Police-reported crime statistics in Canada Juristat release.  For example, the 2014 occurrence file will be available after July 2015. 

A detailed description of the data fields in the publically available Occurrence Data is attached as Appendix A, and a list of the WRPS 9000 call type codes is attached as Appendix B. It is imperative that users of this data read and understand the definitions and limitations inherent to this raw data.  If there are any questions, comments or concerns, please contact the Waterloo Regional Police Service Corporate Planning Systems Division.

Download a printable version of this document

The occurrence data can be downloaded in both Excel (.xls) and comma separated value (.csv) formats.  Right click your mouse on the links below and save them to your computer.  Then open the file with a program suitable for displaying data.

 

Disclaimer: This document provides a description of the main Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) data sources, how each data set is used internally, and the limitations inherent within this raw data. WRPS regularly uses this data to publish, analyze, evaluate, and guide our organization’s evidence-based and intelligence-led decision making and performance management.

Everyone who uses the information provided herein agrees to abide by the terms of use, which include reading all of the information found within this Disclaimer, as well as the "Require Reading" sections of this document.

Users of this data are responsible for reading and acknowledging the limitations of this data. WRPS discourages linking this data to any other outside dataset. Any statements, conclusions, or publications based upon this WRPS data made by non-WRPS employees are made without the authorization of WRPS and are not the opinion of the WRPS.

 

 

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