Small majority disapprove of Toronto police carding: poll

WATCH: A new survey suggests that most Torontonians approve of Toronto police but disapproves the practice of carding. Mark Carcasole reports.

TORONTO –  Almost half of Torontonians are against the controversial police tactic of “carding,” according to a new Mainstreet Technologies poll released Tuesday.

A survey among 2,320 respondents indicates 47 per cent of people disapprove of carding – a strategy used by police to stop, document, and collect information on people who may or may not have committed a crime.

The tactic has been heavily criticized for racial profiling as it unfairly targets people of colour, especially black men.

READ MORE: Revised ‘carding’ policy ignored by Toronto police officers: report

Police Chief Bill Blair has since temporarily suspended the practice until the Toronto Police Services Board meets in February to further discuss the issue.

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Police spokesperson Mark Pugash refused to comment on the poll during an interview Tuesday, suggesting instead that people wait until a police report on the practice is released in February before commenting.

Geographically, those polled in Scarborough were more inclined to support carding with 54 per cent support compared to 37 per cent against.

Opposition to the tactic is strongest in the downtown, with 55 per cent disapproving versus 42 per cent who are in favour.

Dr. Oren Amitay, a Toronto-area registered psychologist, said media coverage of crimes may in part drive that opinion.

“When the news frequently shows a certain demographic committing certain crimes, people are going to say, yeah, let’s card them all because they feel that’s going to prevent the crime because that’s their reality,” he said.

Those surveyed in Scarborough and Etobicoke had the highest percentage of people who think crime is increasing with 66 per cent and 53 per cent respectively.

VIDEO: Bill Blair on the policy of ‘carding’ and the gap in community trust in police

The numbers appear in stark contrast to Toronto police statistics that show a decline in certain major crimes in the city such as homicides, robberies and thefts since 2012.

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Meanwhile, the poll also found the Toronto Police Service earning high marks with a 69 per cent approval rating.

The Mainstreet Technologies poll was conducted by using interactive telephone voice response calls with a margin of error of +/- 2.03 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Mainstreet Technologies – January Toronto Issues Part 2

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