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Carding: Provincial guidelines seek end to arbitrary police stops

Last Updated Oct 28, 2015 at 7:45 pm EDT

The province has outlined new carding regulations that, if adhered to, would put an end to arbitrary police stops across Ontario.

Yasir Naqvi, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, announced the new guidelines on Wednesday.

Under the proposed rules, police would be required to undergo bias awareness, discrimination and racism training every three years. Police chiefs would also have to write annual reports on who was stopped, including their ages, race and gender.

The new guidelines come after a government review of the contentious practice, as well as community consultations.

Naqvi said he’s confident police will follow the guidelines, saying “police are professionals, their leadership is exceptional.”

“Our government has been clear that we are opposed to any random and arbitrary collection of identifying information, and this regulation expressly prohibits that across Ontario,” Naqvi said.

In a release, the government said the regulations “would also establish clear and consistent rules to protect civil liberties during voluntary police-public interactions where police are seeking to collect identifying information, to ensure that those interactions are conducted without bias or discrimination, and done in a manner that promotes public confidence and keeps our communities safe.”

The three keys elements of the draft legislation are:

1. The express prohibition on random and arbitrary collection of identifying information by police.

2. New rules to protect civil liberties during voluntary police-public interactions that take place for the purpose of keeping our communities safe from illegal activities that will require police to:

  • Inform individuals that they are not legally required to provide information to the police officer
  • Inform individuals that they are not required to remain in the presence of the officer
  • Inform individuals why the information is being collected
  • Provide information about the interactions as well as how to file complaints and access this information

3. New training, data management, reporting, and other requirements to strengthen accountability and public confidence. (Source: Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services)

In a release, the Toronto Police Services Board said it “welcomed” the draft legislation.

“The issue of street checks, often known as “carding,” is one that has been a priority for our Board over the past several years. The Board has recognized that there have been significant and long-standing concerns with the nature of contacts between police officers and members of the community, in particular, people from racialized backgrounds, and with the retention of information derived from these contacts in the police database.

The Board has been concerned that this practice has had implications for public trust of and confidence in the police.”