OTTAWA - The RCMP took 30 people into its witness protection program last year and spent an all-time high for the program of more than $9 million.
The numbers were quietly deposited with the Library of Parliament late this week.
The RCMP says the witness protection program is a vital tool to catch terrorists and bust organized crime rings but it's not cheap.
Though the federal witness protection program came into being in 1996, the RCMP has only been reporting the full cost of the program since 2006-2007 and it can vary widely from year to year depending on the number of people that go into it.
For the year ending March 31, 2012, 108 individuals were considered for admission into witness protection but only 30 actually got in. Of those, 27 went through a "secure name change." The bill to hide those 30 people from the bad guys? $9.15 million.
Last year, the force spent $8.27 million to give protection to 16 witnesses.
If the RCMP has to relocate individuals it generally tries to maintain the individual's standard of living so long as the protectee was not living off of the avails of illegal activities.
Still, the single biggest cost of the program was the cost of the cops themselves. The force paid $4.5 million in wages and salaries to RCMP personnel working to protect witnesses and paid out only $1.74 million in witness protection expenses.
The RCMP only provides summary information about the program and won't provide any details on the users themselves.
The RCMP also reported that there were eight individuals who voluntarily terminated their participation in the program and another two individuals who were involuntarily terminated - or booted out - of the program.
The two individuals kicked out of the program involved breaches of the protection agreement by the witnesses.