New laws in Ontario will prohibit police from carding arbitrarily or due to race

Dec 22 2016, 12:32 am

Starting January 1, just because you’re in a high-crime area, doesn’t mean police can request identifying information.

The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services announced new policing rules which go into effect in the new year.

The new laws will prohibit police from “requesting identifying information arbitrarily, or based on a person’s race or presence in a high-crime neighbourhood during certain police-public interactions.”

The changes to street checks, known as carding, states that police must tell you why they are requiring your I.D, tell you that you can refuse to give your identifying information, and also offer you a receipt indicating the officer’s name, badge number, and who to contact to access personal information about you. The receipt can be given out even if you refuse to share information.

While the new rules applies to situations in which officers are looking into suspicious activities, are gathering intelligence, or are investigating general criminal activity, the rules do not apply if the officer is:

    • talking to a driver during a traffic stop
    • arresting or detaining you
    • executing a warrant
    • investigating a specific crime

“These new rules protect the rights of people who are not under investigation while also laying the foundation for more positive, trusting and respectful relationships between police and the public – relationships that can help police continue to solve and prevent crimes and keep our communities safe,” said Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Kevin Flynn in a press release.

The ministry states that new regulation reflects feedback from public consultations on how to improve transparency, oversight and public confidence, and establishes new training, record-keeping, and reporting requirements to strengthen accountability.

“Ontario is the first jurisdiction in Canada to set out clear and consistent rules for voluntary police-public interactions where police are seeking to collect identifying information,” states the press release. “These rules will ensure these interactions are conducted without bias or discrimination, and done in a manner that promotes public confidence and keeps Ontario communities safe.”

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