Compelling report must end harmful carding practice by police: Opinion

April 18, 2017
Article Source
Toronto Star

From a Toronto Star opinion piece: At its meeting this Thursday the Toronto Police Services Board will be considering its response to Ontario's "request for feedback on police street checks public awareness." 

"Street checks," better known as "carding," is the practice of police officers questioning people who are not suspected of having committed any crime and are not thought to have knowledge of any particular criminal activity. The officers record the information they obtain about the person. The filing of cards containing such information gave the practice its name. 

The province is presently asking police services to comment on "public awareness" of its recent regulation on carding. However, the Toronto Police Services Board is virtually ignoring a report, paid for and commissioned by the board itself, which clearly implies carding should be abolished.

A little background. In 2010, the Toronto Star reported on its detailed study of six years of carding of hundreds of thousands of people by Toronto Police. The study demonstrated that black people had been carded three times as often as others had been, although only about 8.4 per cent of the residents of Toronto were black.

The Toronto Star’s headlines could not be ignored. Over the past seven years, the Toronto Police board has spent an enormous amount of time, effort and money trying to find ways that carding could be regulated so it does not entail racial profiling and violations of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 

Many people argued that carding had to be abolished since it would be harmful no matter what regulations were imposed. The police board adopted several different policies but refused to ban the practice. The Province of Ontario enacted a regulation that still permits carding and is now asking all Ontario police services to comment on the public's awareness of this regulation.

Late last year, the board retained highly respected criminologists Anthony Doob and Rosemary Gartner to research the effectiveness of carding. Doob and Gartner presented their extensive report to the board on March 23. The Doob-Gartner Report contains a thorough analysis of many studies on the benefits and harms of carding in many jurisdictions.

Read more: Compelling report must end harmful carding practice by police: Opinion