Hot and Harm Spots in Barrie: Using the Canadian Crime Severity Index for Effective Deployment

Hot and Harm Spots in Barrie: Using the Canadian Crime Severity Index for Effective Deployment
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2022-08-04
Unit 1Presentation Materials: Hot and Harm Spots in Barrie
Unit 2Transcript: Hot and Harm Spots in Barrie
Unit 3Workbook: Hot and Harm Spots in Barrie
Unit 4Recording: Hot and Harm Spots in Barrie

Crimes are not equal. An incident of petty shoplifting does not hold the same weight as an armed robbery or murder would, and yet these statistics are reported as if one is equal to another. The Barrie Police Service recognized how such treatment of data does not quite reflect the reality of the community’s sense of safety.

This webinar unpacks the concept of Harm-Focused policing utilized by the Barrie Police Service and how it more effectively addresses the crime concerns of the jurisdiction. The discussion is led by:

  • Rich Johnston, Deputy Chief of Police, Barrie Police Service
  • Randy Fitzgerald, Sergeant, Community Safety and Well-Being Team – Barrie Police Service
  • Madison Charman, Organizational Researcher, Barrie Police Service

Topics covered in this session include:

  • The context of crime reporting in Barrie, and the development of the Police Reported Crime Severity Index and the Cambridge Crime Harm Index.
  • The concept of crime harm which recognizes that crimes are not equal and instead looks into the impact of the particular offense on society.
  • An overview of the Barrie Police Service, the jurisdiction and community they serve, their operations, and their approach to deployment.
  • How a very small segment of the city addresses account for the harm and the need to better understand crime and be more efficient with finite resources brought about harm-focused policing.
  • What harm-focused policing is – how each crime contributes differently to the harm created within the community and utilizing a harm index to reflect a crime’s impact on the community more accurately.
  • The different crime and harm indices that exist and those which are used and served as inspiration for Barrie’s approach to crime reduction.
  • The disparate data sources and tools utilized, and the step-by-step process to arrive at the harm index.
  • Applying the harm index to police operations.
    • Ensuring to exclude proactive and commercial efforts when quantifying outcomes.
    • Using the harm figures instead of the counts to influence patrol deployment and the type of engagement and personnel required.
    • The reality that for 20% of the harm caused in Barrie, only 1.85 of the offenders caused it, and only occurred in 0.0006% of the locations.
    • A glimpse into the dashboards used to visualize the volume, level of harm, and social disorder.
    • The technology leveraging GPS and geo-fencing used to collate crime and patrol information.
    • Case studies demonstrating how utilizing the harm index allowed for a more targeted and efficient patrol deployment and its successful outcomes
    • The conversations following the successful outcomes to maintain the regulated locations – when patrols can be eased and thresholds that once reached can trigger heightened patrol.
  • The strategy employed to secure internal and external buy-in to employ harm-focused policing.
  • A demonstration of the different views and functions of the dashboards created.
  • The existing limitations and issues encountered with the data and dashboard and a wishlist of ideal capabilities and information captured to improve harm-focused policing efforts.
  • The fact that crime concentration and trends tend to be generally similar and how a weighted approach to quantify harm allows to identify locations and individuals that are commonly victimized as well as the offender and the networks they work within.

Questions from the webinar attendees are about:

  • The sources of data and other external datasets that can enhance insights.
  • Sharing information gleaned from the harm index to the public.
  • US agencies that use a similar approach to patrolling and crime reduction.
  • What constitutes the concept of “harm”.
  • Issues and challenges faced in the implementation of harm-focused policing.



Other Webinars with these Presenters


Or click here to view and register for other upcoming ASEBP webinars on the JCH Platform.


Resources and Handouts


Audience Comments

  • “My agency doesn’t look at harm in the context of creating hot or harm spots. I liked the information presented in this presentation and would like more information on the harm indexing process.” — Amber
  • “The harm index as a useful tool to measure impact of crime and disorder versus just the output data.” — Annah
  • “Barrie PD has done a thorough job of considering all aspects of this undertaking. Kudos to each of you for a job well done!” — Roseann
  • “Every detail was so very important.” — Enida
  • “Good information. I’m hoping I can use this information for the social work side of this because if LE is being called out Department of Child Safety and Adult Protective Services are also probably being called.” — Julia
  • “Excellent program they have.” — Robert
  • “The metrics and the dashboard. Great explanation.” — Shon
  • Seeing CSI applied for identifying harm spots – while we often reference CSI, we are not yet using it in this valuable way.” — Sheila
  • “The operationalization of a relatively theoretical thing we (in law enforcement) do on a daily basis in an informal way. I hope to incorporate parts of this model in my own analysis and mapping endeavors.” — Tammy




The American Society of EvidenceBased Policing is a non-profit organization started by working police officers designed to drive the national conversation towards ensuring that the least harmful, most effective, fairest, and safest strategies are employed to prevent crime, reduce harm, and improve community wellness.



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