April 6th, 2018

NDP bill aims to stop street checks in Nova Scotia

HALIFAX – The NDP Caucus will introduce legislation today to implement an immediate moratorium on the discriminatory practice of street checks. The bill will also require the government to introduce new legislation about the collection of data from residents by September 2019 once the Human Rights Commission study is complete.

“We have heard from community members and local experts that street checks communicates to racialized people that they do not belong in their own communities,” said Lisa Roberts, MLA for Halifax Needham, and NDP spokesperson for African Nova Scotia Affairs. “The fact that this is being studied by the Human Rights Commission should not be an excuse to avoid fixing this very real problem now.”

A review of data collected by the Halifax Regional Police showed Black residents were three times more likely than white residents to be subject to street checks. Street checks as defined by the bill are when a person, who is not suspected of a crime, is stopped (either on foot, or in a vehicle) by police and asked for identifying information in a non-consensual interaction.

“When we have evidence that a practice is discriminatory, we should be defaulting to actions that defend civil liberties. While the Human Rights Commission study will provide additional evidence, there is no reason to continue this practice in the meantime,” said NDP Justice spokesperson Claudia Chender.

The NDP bill will not impact police officers' ability to interact with members of the public, provided the interaction is consensual and the data collected from those interactions is only kept for the individual officers' use. The legislation, if passed, would apply to municipal police forces and the RCMP.

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