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“Carding” policy in Ontario being rethought

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When it comes to defending oneself against criminal accusations, the circumstances surrounding the arrest are often focused upon. Sometimes people are stopped by law enforcement officers without any real justification. It is possible that in the past residents of the Toronto area may have found that they are in police custody after being the subject of a “carding” or “street checks.”

Civil rights activists in Toronto have called for an end to the practice. An investigation conducted by a Toronto newspaper in 2012, found that black residents of the area were carded by police disproportionately, as compared to people from other backgrounds. As a result of bringing the matter to light, the practice has been suspended since January and changes to the practice are under consideration.

Activists are seeking to have a new policy regarding the matter adopted. As a part of that change they request that:

  • The current database of information collected as a result of carding be purged
  • Going forward officers are directed to let individuals know that the stop is optional
  • Officers provide those stopped with a copy of the information recorded as well as the name and badge number of the officer who initiated the stop

Law enforcement has indicated that it does not want to do away with the practice completely as it is “a valuable investigative tool.” Toronto’s police chief has indicated however that random stops would no longer occur. Since the Toronto Police Service indicates that “intelligence-led-policing” is the reason behind fewer than one in 10 of these carding situations, presumably this change could make a difference in the number of people arrested.

We will provide updates to the matter as they become available.

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