N.S. Human Rights Commission launches survey on use of ‘carding’ in Halifax
Haligonians will be able to have their say on Halifax Regional Police’s use of the controversial practice known as street checks — otherwise known as “carding.”
The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission launched an online survey regarding the practice on September 6, with the goal of gathering additional information from the community as part of a review of street checks in Halifax.
Carding refers to the police technique of stopping people when no specific offence is being investigated, questioning them and recording their information.
Scot Wortley, a University of Toronto criminology professor, is leading the review and was hired after data showed black men were three times more likely than whites to be subjected to the controversial practice.
“Street checks have potentially very detrimental impacts on certain populations and we’ve got to weigh those consequences with the possible crime-fighting potential,” Wortley said at a meeting of the Board of Police Commissioners in September 2017.
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Advocates of police street checks say it helps law enforcement gather intelligence and improve public safety, while opponents say it targets black people and violates human rights.
Halifax police say street checks are used to record suspicious activity. Although police stop and question people, the checks can also be “passive,” with information recorded based on observations rather than interactions.
Wortley is set to provide an update on the review to the Board of Police Commissioners on Monday.
He has reportedly met with multiple members of the HRP from all levels of policing — including crime analysts, detectives in major crimes, sergeants, patrol officers and Halifax Regional Police Chief Michel Blais.
Wortley has also met with RCMP detachments in Sackville, Tantallon, North Preston and Cole Harbour.
He also held 11 community meetings in the HRM that sought input from the general public.
The online survey is meant to bridge the gap for people who were not able to attend the community meetings.
The survey will be available for the next three months.
A preliminary report is expected to be completed in November, with the final report being released to the public in January.
— With files from The Canadian Press
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