Province accepts recommendation to collect race-based information during police stops

Street checks were banned in Nova Scotia in 2019. (Paul Palmer/CBC – image credit)

Police across the province could soon collect race-based data during routine police checks, part of a set of recommendations based on a report three years ago that found black people at Halifax are disproportionately targeted by street checks.

This recommendation follows the 2019 release of the Wortley Report, which included 53 recommendations related to banning street checks, regulating street checks, collecting police stop data and improving police-community relations.

“There is no place for racism in our justice system,” Attorney General Brad Johns said in a press release Thursday.

“These recommendations will guide the development of a data collection model for police stops that will help ensure that police practices and interactions are free from discrimination.”

Street checks are defined in the Wortley report as an instance where an officer interacts with or observes someone and then records personal or identifying information in a database.

Street controls banned in 2019

Street checks were banned in Nova Scotia on October 18, 2019.

Vanessa Fells, director of operations for the African Nova Scotian Decade Coalition for People of African Descent, said the group is pleased to see the Department of Justice working with the African Nova Scotian community to respond. recommendations on routine checks.

“We hope this report will be mandated at the provincial level and allow for annual updates to the public on the interpretation of this data,” Fells said in the release.

“We are confident that transparency in data collection will allow for police accountability, policy changes in the current justice system and, with the development of the African Nova Scotian Justice Plan, create space where all African Nova Scotians will feel safe when interacting with law enforcement.”

The Wortley Report Research Committee released its report on Thursday.

The team tasked with reviewing the findings of the Wortley report is made up of representatives from the police, members of the African Nova Scotian community, and other regulated government agencies such as the Department of Justice and the Human Rights Commission. the person from Nova Scotia. It was led by Timothy Bryan, a professor at the University of Toronto and an expert in criminal justice reform research.

A goal to improve interactions

It recommends that the Minister of Justice mandate the collection of race-based data by the police, stating that the information collected during police checks will identify over-representation when it occurs and help the police to improve interactions with African Nova Scotians, Indigenous peoples and other racialized Nova Scotians. This would allow evaluation of policies and practices and improve transparency and accountability.

Next steps include examining the ways police collect data across the province and working with the community and police to develop a standardized model for collecting race-based data.

As of now, there is no confirmation as to when police will actively begin collecting race-based data.