Ontario's police watchdog to begin collecting race-based data

Aug 11 2020, 8:40 am

Ontario’s police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), will begin collecting race-based data during its investigations starting in the fall.

The data will be collected voluntarily from complainants in SIU cases, according to a release. This will include people who have been seriously injured, alleged sexual assault, or the next-of-kin of those who have died.

Information will also be gathered from officers “who appear to have caused the serious injury or death in question.”

The program will begin on October 1, as part of Ontario’s Anti-Racism Act.

“The systematic collection, analysis and public reporting of this data will do much to help the public and police better understand policing and policing oversight issues, including issues relating to systemic anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism,” said the SIU Director Joseph Martino in the release.

The announcement followed a report by the Ontario Human Rights Commission, A Disparate Impact, diving into racial profiling and discrimination of Black people by the Toronto Police Service (TPS).

Although they make up only 8.8% of Toronto’s population, the report found that Black people represented almost one-third (32%) of all the charges in the five-year dataset.

Martino said the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s report “buttresses the importance of race-based data.”

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