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Racial profiling

Street checks report to be reviewed by police board before release

Criminologist Scot Wortley looking at data showing black people stopped more often

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caption HRP Chief Jean-Michel Blais (left), public safety adviser Amy Siciliano (middle) and Commissioner Tony Mancini (right) during Monday's board meeting.
Colin Bullard

A report on street checks will be reviewed in private by the Halifax police commission before it’s released to the public on March 27.

The report by Scot Wortley, a criminologist at the University of Toronto, was initially slated to be released in January. The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission hired Wortley in September 2017 to review Halifax Regional Police’s street checks policy, and to learn about people’s experiences with police.

On Monday, the Board of Police Commissioners agreed to discuss the report in-camera.

“It’s standard procedure,” said Coun. Steve Craig. “It’s not an unusual thing. The only thing that’s unusual is that it’s the police commission.”

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The practice of street checks or carding was called into question after a 2017 CBC investigation discovered black people were three times more likely than whites to be stopped by HRP.

In January 2017, HRP released data showing that while black residents only make up 3.6 per cent of the total population, they accounted for 11 per cent of those carded.

When the results were presented at a police commission meeting, debate ensued as to whether or not the checks should continue. The board did not end the practice.

Wortley met with people in 11 different communities as part of his research. Many people shared their stories about their experiences with police and said they felt this was discrimination.

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