Final Regulations Regarding Police Street Checks
The province has filed final regulations on the arbitrary collection of identifying information by police, referred to as carding or street checks.
The regulations will apply when police are:
- Investigating general criminal activity in a community
- Inquiring into suspicious activities to detect offences
- Gathering information for intelligence purposes.
As of January 1, 2017:
- Officers must inform the person of their right to not provide identifying information.
- Officers must provide a reason for requesting identifying information. The reason cannot be:
- that the person declined to answer a question or attempted to end the interaction
- based on race or solely because that individual is in a high-crime location
To ensure police can continue to do their work safely, the regulations allow exemptions in some specific situations, for example:
- If the person is legally required to provide information (e.g. during a traffic stop)
- If the person is under arrest or being detained, or when the officer is executing a warrant
- If complying with a specific aspect of the regulation would compromise an ongoing investigation or compromise safety
- If the officer has a reasonable suspicion that the interaction is necessary to their investigation of an offence that has been committed or that the officer reasonably suspects will be committed.
- Starting immediately, the minister will appoint a roundtable with knowledge of human rights, community needs, issues affecting youth, privacy laws, curriculum development, policing and other relevant fields to provide input to the Ontario Police College on the development of new training for police officers. The members include:
- Barbara Hall (former Ontario Human Rights Commissioner)
- Mary Ann Chambers (former MPP and community activist)
- Joanne St Lewis (professor at the University of Ottawa)
- Armand La Barge (former Chief of Police, York Regional Police Service)
- Ann Cavoukian (former Information and Privacy Commissioner)
- Orlando Bowen (Executive Director, One Voice Team)
- Additional members representing, for example, Indigenous interests, will be added in the coming weeks.
- The training will include topics such as discrimination, racism, bias awareness, police-public interactions and avoiding psychological detention in addition to what police need to do to ensure they comply with the new regulations.
- All officers in Ontario will have completed training by January 1, 2017.
- An independent reviewer will be appointed in the coming months, reporting to the minister to:
- Conduct a review of the regulation, to be completed within two years of full implementation
- Make recommendations to improve the implementation of the regulation.
- The independent reviewer will consult with the Anti-Racism Directorate in the review and in the development of recommendations.
Once in place, the new regulations will require:
- All collections of identifying information submitted to be reviewed within 30 days by the chief of police or designate, who will review:
- The police officer's reason for collecting the information
- If the police officer confirmed compliance with other aspects of the regulation.
- At least once a year, the chief of police or designate to conduct a detailed review of a random sample of entries into the database to verify compliance with the regulation.
- Access to identifying information to be restricted if it is found the identifying information was inappropriately collected. Access to restricted information can only be granted by the chief of police for demonstrable public safety or legal purposes (e.g. ongoing police investigation, legal proceeding, complying with a legal requirement, etc.).
- Access to all identifying information to be restricted five years after it is entered into a police database.
Changes that affect police services:
- Police services will no longer be permitted to use targets/quotas for the collection of identifying information.
- Chiefs of police must ensure that officers and supervisors complete relevant training every three years.
- Chiefs of police must complete an annual public report that includes information such as the number of attempted collections; gender, age, and race of the individuals stopped; number of times officers relied on exemptions; and the neighbourhoods where information was collected.
- If the annual report indicates that a particular group (i.e. members of a racialized group) is found to be disproportionately affected, the chief must submit a supplemental report to the police services board with an explanation and, in some cases, a proposal to address the disproportionate impact.
Changes that affect police services boards:
- Police services boards and the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (for the OPP) will develop policies related to the regulations, for example regarding access, retention and disclosure of collected information.
- Polices service boards must make any supplemental reports from the chief of police available online.