In a submission to the Honourable Yasir Naqvi, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, the Commissioner offers recommendations on the practice of police street checks. These recommendations respond directly to questions posed in the Ministry’s Ontario Proposed Regulation for Street Checks Consultation Document, which will inform the development of a regulation governing this practice.
It is not clear from existing evidence that street checks reduce crime and improve public safety. However, if they are to continue, it is critical that a province-wide governance framework be put in place to protect Ontarians’ privacy and other fundamental rights. The Commissioner recommends that this framework clearly define the scope of permissible street checks and set out rules for the collection, retention, use and disclosure of personal information gathered in the course of these checks. The framework should also ensure that officers:
- notify individuals of their right not to participate or not to answer some or all of the police officer’s questions;
- notify individuals of the right to request access to their personal information gathered during a street check; and
- provide a receipt or business card to individuals that outlines the reason for the interaction, even if personal information is not collected.
The Commissioner also recommends that police collect de-identified data during street checks in order to allow the ministry, the police and oversight bodies to study the impact of street checks on privacy and other rights, as well as on public safety.
The ministry is asking for the public’s feedback on police street checks. The last of a series of public meetings is taking place in Toronto tonight, but there are numerous other ways to share your views, including by mail, email or online form, until Sept. 21.