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Carding across Canada: Data show practice of 'street checks' lacks mandated set of procedures Add to ...

The controversy around carding — the police practice of documenting interactions with community members — is not exclusive to Toronto. The Globe and Mail contacted 21 police departments across the country and found it's common, often unregulated and data collected is frequently kept indefinitely

Between 2009 and 2011, Toronto Police entered 1,104,561 names into its carding database, according to the force’s own figures, a staggering effort disproportionately targeting minority groups. Toronto Police say they need carding to gather intelligence and prevent crime, but in doing so they resorted to tactics that sullied their public standing.

In recent months, the force's carding efforts have been reined in, thanks largely to intense community pressure. Under a new policy, Toronto officers must inform residents they have the right to walk away from a carding engagement at any time and conclude any such interaction by issuing a receipt.

While the carding controversy is confined to Toronto, documenting interactions with community members, also known as a “street check,” is common practice for major police forces across Canada. Rules guiding that process, however, are vague or non-existent in most cases.

A Globe and Mail analysis found the practice lacks a mandated set of procedures after 21 Canadian police forces answered questions about interacting with community members in their respective jurisdictions. Most spoke willingly with The Globe, but some, including Winnipeg and Calgary, refused to respond to questions on the matter.

The practice typically involves an officer stopping a community member, questioning them and entering information into a computer database.

By speaking to forces around the country, The Globe found the following:

  • On average, in 2014 police forces that spoke with The Globe had stopped 0.86 per cent of their jurisdiction's 2011 population.
  • The majority of police forces that disclosed to The Globe the length of time they keep records on community members who are stopped and questioned reported keeping records indefinitely.
  • All but two police forces interviewed by The Globe have no formal procedure in place to guide interactions between officers and community members who are stopped and questioned.
  • Most police forces in Canada call the practice a “street check.”
  • Most police forces in Canada use records management system Versaterm Inc.

Explore all the details from specific police forces below.

Explore data by category

Choose an option to see how each police force responded to the Globe's questions

Clear
  • Abbotsford
  • Calgary
  • Durham Region
  • Edmonton
  • Fredericton
  • Halifax
  • Kingston
  • Medicine Hat
  • Montréal
  • Moose Jaw
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Ottawa
  • Peel Region
  • Prince Albert
  • Saskatoon
  • Toronto
  • Vancouver
  • Victoria
  • Waterloo
  • Windsor
  • Winnipeg

Explore data by police force

Choose a city or region to see a complete response from its police force and compare to other responses

Total street checks in 2014 586

Total street checks in 2014 586

Percentage of population stopped 0.4

Percentage of population stopped 0.4

How many years are records kept? Not tracked

How many years are records kept? Not tracked

Is a receipt issued? No

Is a receipt issued? No

Are citizens advised of their right to disengage? No

Are citizens advised of their right to disengage? No

What is the purpose of street checks? "[In short,] trying to determine what [someone is] doing and why they’re doing it," said Abbotsford Police Department Public Information Officer Ian MacDonald.

What is the purpose of street checks? "[In short,] trying to determine what [someone is] doing and why they’re doing it," said Abbotsford Police Department Public Information Officer Ian MacDonald.

What is the procedure for street checks? No formal procedure. "We don’t have specific policy in regards to … I would say that falls somewhere within discretion," said Abbotsford Police Department Public Information Officer Ian MacDonald.

What is the procedure for street checks? No formal procedure. "We don’t have specific policy in regards to … I would say that falls somewhere within discretion," said Abbotsford Police Department Public Information Officer Ian MacDonald.

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