Ombudsman’s office releases submission on carding
September 24, 2015
24 September, 2015
The Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario today publicly released its submission to the government on the subject of police street checks. The submission was made in August as part of the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services’ public consultation on the practice often known as “carding.”
Calls for overhaul, strict control of “illegal” police practice
(TORONTO – September 24, 2015) – The Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario today publicly released its submission to the government on the subject of police street checks. The submission was made in August as part of the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services’ public consultation on the practice often known as “carding.”
Carding is “wrong and illegal” and “a form of arbitrary detention contrary to section 9 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” states the August 31 submission by then-Ombudsman André Marin, entitled Street Checks and Balances.
The Ombudsman’s submission argues that there is insufficient evidence that carding is an effective policing tool, and reviews conflicting examples of how it differs among police services across the province. Noting that the Ministry’s intention is to regulate the practice, the submission makes 25 recommendations to control it.
The recommendations include: Cautioning everyone who is “carded” that they have the right to walk away; provincewide training for officers to ensure consistent practices; more research into the effectiveness of carding and consultation with human rights experts on the harm it causes; strict limits on the use of street checks and retention of any data gathered; independent oversight; and no carding of anyone under 18.
“If the government persists in its attempt to permit and regulate street checks, significant safeguards will be required to minimize the infringement on individual civil rights and salvage community confidence in policing in the province,” states Mr. Marin, who, along with now-Acting Ombudsman Barbara Finlay and senior staff, also discussed the issue in person with Deputy Minister of Community Safety Matthew Torigian on August 12. (Ms. Finlay was appointed Acting Ombudsman on September 14.)
“Given the serious implications for civil rights in Ontario relating to street checks, and the lack of empirical evidence supporting its use, the Ministry should exercise the utmost caution in drafting any regulation of the practice. I remain unconvinced, based on the available information, that there is a public interest purpose sufficient to override the infringement of the right to be free from the arbitrary detention that street checks represent,” the submission concludes.
The full submission is available online.