New changes to policing
When and how a street check (also known as carding) can be done.
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A street check, also known as carding, is when a police officer asks someone for identifying information (ID) in a particular type of situation.
Starting January 1, 2017, in certain circumstances, police must follow new rules about when and how they can ask someone to identify themselves.
When new rules apply
New rules apply if an officer asks you to identify yourself when they are:
- looking into suspicious activities
- gathering intelligence
- investigating general criminal activity in the community
New rules for street checks 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
The rules and what they mean for you
As of January 1, 2017, if a police officer asks you for ID in a situation when the rules apply, they must:
- have a reason, which cannot be:
- based on race
- arbitrary (not meaningful)
- only because you are in a high-crime area
- because you refused to answer a question or walked away
- tell you why they want your identifying information
- tell you that you can refuse to give identifying information
- offer you a receipt – even if you refuse to share information – that includes:
- the officer’s name
- the officer’s badge number
- how to contact the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, which handles complaints about police in Ontario
- who to contact to access personal information about you that the police service has on file
- keep detailed records of their interaction with you – even if you refuse to share information
If a police officer does not follow these rules, it is a Code of Conduct violation under the Police Services Act and they may be disciplined.
In rare cases, if following the rules above could negatively affect an investigation, threaten public safety or force officers to reveal confidential information, police officers may not have to:
- tell you why they are asking for information – for example, the reason involves a tip from a confidential informant
- tell you that you have the right to refuse giving ID – for example, the officer suspects a car passenger may be a victim of human trafficking
- give you a receipt from the interaction – for example, the officer receives an urgent call for service and must quickly end the interaction
In these cases the officer must record their reason for not following the rule.
Identifying information collected under the new rules must be restricted five years after being entered into a database. No one can access restricted information without permission from the chief of police.
Each police service must regularly review records and – if an officer didn’t comply with the regulation – access to that information must be restricted immediately.
Each year, police services must produce and share a report with the public that includes:
- information about how many times officers tried to collect ID
- how often police relied on exemptions from the rules
- demographics (age, sex, race) about the people police tried to collect ID from
All police in Ontario who may collect ID will have received training on the new rules. This training also includes topics such as:
- individual rights
- unlawful detention
- bias awareness
Officers must refresh their training at least every three years.