Province sets strict new limits on police street checks

Posted on October 28, 2015 in Equality Policy Context – News/Crime – Tactic of stopping and questioning people who are not suspected of any crime has been applied disproportionately to blacks, data shows.
Oct 28 2015.   By: Wendy Gillis, News reporter

Police officers will no longer be able to arbitrarily stop people for questioning based on their appearance or the neighbourhood they live in, Ontario’s minister of community safety and correctional services said Wednesday.
Yasir Naqvi said police officers will also have to tell citizens that the stop is voluntary and that the person can walk away.

The officers will be required to provide a reason for stop, as well as documentation and information about complaint mechanism.

Ontario police forces will also have to report annually to their police boards about carding. Forces will not be allowed to have quota system.

The announcement came less than a week after Naqvi said he planned to make random and arbitrary carding by police forces across Ontario illegal by the end of fall.

Carding is a practice by which officers stop, question and document members of the public who are not suspected of a crime. A series of Toronto Star investigations have shown the practice is disproportionately applied to young black men.

The tactic has been criticized as discriminatory — as racial profiling by another name — for years in Toronto, and has come under fire in other cities across Ontario, including Brampton, Mississauga, London and Hamilton.

The provincial regulations come after a months-long review of street checks by Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government announced last June. Naqvi’s ministry conducted a series of consultations throughout the province for community feedback, including a heating meeting in Toronto in August.

The feedback was clear, Naqvi said: There should be no tolerance for random stops by police.

“We have heard from the community that street checks, by definition, are arbitrary as well as discriminatory and therefore cannot be regulated; they must simply be ended. The province agrees that these types of stops must end,” Naqvi said last week.

Toronto police spokesperson Mark Pugash responded to Naqvi’s comments last week by saying: “Nothing that the minister has said clashes with what Chief (Mark) Saunders has said.”

The Toronto Police Service resisted its own board’s calls for stricter limits on carding until former chief Bill Blair suspended the practice earlier this year.

Mayor John Tory, who sits on the Toronto police board, initially stood by the practice, but changed his position on carding after facing public outrage.

Carding is a practice that involves officers stopping citizens and storing their details in a police database. Data show that in Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton and London, black individuals are more than three times as likely to be carded as whites.

Opponents of street checks have argued that the practice violates charter rights protecting citizens from unlawful search and seizure and detention, as well as some provisions of the Ontario Human Rights Code.

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2 Responses to “Province sets strict new limits on police street checks”

  1. I’m glad to read that the rules surrounding street checks will be changed by our Provincial government to better consider our basic human right to be free from discrimination. The fact that there will be no quota, and that people will be allowed to choose to simply not answer questions, makes the entire process of carding seem less discriminatory to the individual. If people feel that carding is less threatening, they may be more likely to comply and to answer questions asked to them honestly.

    In reading comments on other articles on this topic, I noticed that many people argue that “the crime rate will only increase” or that “a large portion of incarcerated individuals are minority groups”. I think that it’s very important that we, as a society, re-evaluate the questions that we are asking when it comes to social issues (not only crime, but poverty, mental-illness, and homelessness as well). We’re asking the wrong questions and that is why we are still seeking answers. We’ve already determined that minority groups are more likely to succumb to incarceration. In changing policies that support racism and discrimination, I’m hoping that rather than fixating on the “who”, society will begin to fixate on the history surrounding “why” minorities are more likely to offend and re-offend, and “how” we can change this. It is time to move away from blaming the individual and from disproving statistical findings, and to realize that our system doesn’t support equity for all races, genders, and classes. Poverty and crime go hand in hand. The sooner we begin to shift our focus from “who is more likely to commit a crime” to “how we can help and rehabilitate these individuals”, the sooner we will see reduced crime and poverty rates.

  2. In this article it is clearly stated that black individuals were carded and questioned more often than white individuals. I am glad that the carding was suspended because we claim to want an anti-oppressive and equal society but we continue to discriminate and oppress individuals that are of different culture, ethnicity and gender. I found it interesting that women were not discussed once throughout the article. Does this mean women are not dangerous and do not commit criminal offenses? No. So why are they not mentioned in the article? As I mentioned above it is because women are still oppressed due to their gender. Even though there has been progress in recent years concerning this topic, there is still a large amount of individuals that do not see men and women as equals in every aspect. This makes me curious to see the number of women who were carded compare to men.


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