Attorney General and Justice Minister Mark Furey today, April 17, directed police across the province to suspend street checks of pedestrians and passengers in motor vehicles until further notice.
The directive also makes it clear that no activity conducted by police, including a traffic stop, can be done based on discrimination, including race. The moratorium protects people from street checks in public areas, such as parks, sidewalks or other places accessible to the public, provided there is no suspicious or illegal activity.
“The inappropriate use of street checks is alarming and unacceptable,” said Mr. Furey. “Public trust in policing is essential. We need to address the fear and mistrust that street checks have caused for many in the African Nova Scotian community.”
The moratorium takes effect immediately.
An independent review of street checks in Halifax Regional Municipality released three weeks ago by Prof. Scot Wortley recommended consideration of a moratorium while work is underway to address his recommendations on street checks. His report showed African Nova Scotians are six times more likely to be street checked by police.
The directive follows one issued March 28 where police were directed by the minister to cease using street checks as part of a quota system or performance measurement tool for frontline officers.
Police will continue to conduct traffic stops to ensure compliance under the Motor Vehicle Act and the Criminal Code.
Police can stop a vehicle to ensure the motorist has a valid driver’s licence, registration, proof of insurance and an up-to-date motor vehicle inspection. Police can also conduct a sobriety check or inquire into suspicious activity.
Police can interact with citizens as part of their duties, but drivers are not obligated to provide unrelated personal information.
A group of community members, including youth, police, the Halifax board of police commissioners, the Human Rights Commission, African Nova Scotian Affairs and staff from the Department of Justice, are working together to develop a plan based on the findings of the Wortley Report. It will provide government with recommended actions to strictly regulate street checks and ensure actual change ending the current practices.
The Department of Justice is also investing in mandatory training for more than 1,900 police. Training will focus on the findings of the report and reinforce with police the fundamentals of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the RCMP’s Mission, Vision and Values, and Codes of Conduct for municipal police.
For more information or to see the directive related to street checks go to https://novascotia.ca/street-checks/