New Carding Regulations in Ontario

new-carding-regulations-in-ontario

On January 1, 2017, new government regulations came into effect that are designed to govern the manner in which Ontario police may collect information from individuals, commonly known as “carding”: an ineffective, discriminatory and legally questionable practice of stopping, questioning and documenting of citizens who are not suspected of breaking any law in Ontario.

What are the new Ontario carding regulations?

The new regulations provide that Ontario police officers are not allowed to collect information from individuals if:

  1. any part of the reason that they are attempting to collect information is because the individual is a member of a particular racialized group; or
  2. the attempted collection is done in an arbitrary manner.

An Ontario police officer may, however, attempt to gather information from an individual from a particular racialized group only if:

  1. the officer is seeking a particular individual;
  2. being within the racialized group forms part of a description of the particular individual or is evident from a visual representation of the particular individual; and
  3. the officer has information, in addition to information about the particular individual being in a racialized group, that may help to identify the individual or narrow the description of the individual (e.g., clothing, height, weight, eye colour, hair colour or hair style, the type of automobile or the location where that individual might be found).

The new carding regulations also require police officers to properly inform any individual from whom they seek to gather information of the reason why they are attempting to collect identifying information and that they are not required to provide any identifying information to police.

If you are asked to provide information to a police officer, be sure to ask the officer to provide a written record of this request.

Any Ontario police officer who attempts to collect identifying information about an individual must also provide that individual with a document that provides a record of the attempt.

If you are asked to provide information to a police officer, be sure to ask the officer to provide a written record of this request.

When do the new Ontario carding regulations apply?

The new regulations apply whenever police officers attempt to collect information from individuals for the purpose of:

  1. inquiring into offences that have been or might be committed;
  2. inquiring into suspicious activities to detect offences; or
  3. gathering information for intelligence purposes.

However, the new regulations do not apply when a police officer attempts to collect information for the purposes of investigating an offence that the officer reasonably suspects has been or will be committed.

The new regulations also do not apply where:

  1. an individual is legally required to provide information to a police officer;
  2. an individual is lawfully under arrest or is being detained;
  3. an officer is engaged in a covert operation;
  4. an officer is executing a warrant, acting pursuant to a court order or performing related duties; or
  5. an individual from whom an officer attempts to collect information is employed in the administration of justice or is carrying out duties or providing services that are otherwise relevant to the carrying out of the officer’s duties.

If you have been arrested or detained, then you are required to provide your name and address and nothing more. You should tell the arresting officer that you wish to speak to a lawyer immediately.

In any interaction with the police it is important to remember that you are under no obligation to provide them with information, unless you have been lawfully arrested or detained.

If you have been arrested or detained, then you are required to provide your name and address and nothing more. You should tell the arresting officer that you wish to speak to a lawyer immediately.

For more information, see the Police Services Act.

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