A new report from the Ontario Human Rights Commission finds that Black people in Toronto are disproportionately stopped and searched by police, despite the Ontario government's efforts to regulate so-called “street checks.”

The commission's final report into anti-black racism in the Toronto Police Service, released today, says that although official street checks appear to have been effectively eliminated, black people still report being stopped and searched at a much higher rate. than people from other racial groups. .

It points, among other things, to a survey carried out in 2019 – two years after the provincial regulation prohibiting official street checks came into force – which revealed that 40.4 percent of black respondents reported having been stopped by the police at least once in the previous two years, compared with 24.7 percent of white respondents and 24.9 percent of Asian respondents.

The report says part of the problem is the existence of “significant gaps” in provincial regulations and Toronto police policies and procedures that govern officers' interactions with the public, especially when it comes to stop and searches.

On the one hand, it states that police procedures do not “adequately restrict officers’ discretion” when it comes to detaining people in “circumstances other than arrest,” nor do they provide sufficient guidance on when searches are appropriate.

The report also says Toronto police collected and retained “significant personal data” through street checks before provincial rules came into effect, which were to be destroyed unless the data was needed for investigative purposes.

The commission, whose findings are not legally binding, issued more than 100 recommendations to improve police interactions with black communities.

“I am cautiously optimistic that, if adopted, the OHRC's recommendations will help reduce systemic racism, improve public transparency and police oversight, and begin to foster a relationship of trust between the TPS and Toronto's Black communities.” , said Dr. Scot Wortley, professor of criminology and sociolegal studies at the University of Toronto, who provided analysis for the report, they wrote in a statement.

The inquiry into anti-Black racism in Toronto police was launched in 2017 and previously released two interim reports – one in 2018 and another in 2020.

The 2020 report found that Black people were more likely than others to be arrested, charged, overcharged, beaten, shot or killed by Toronto police.

The final report was initially scheduled to be released two years ago, but the commission says there were delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the receipt of information from Toronto police and the Toronto Police Services Board.

Last year, Toronto police released unprecedented race-based data showing disproportionate use of force against Black residents.

Then-interim police chief James Ramer apologized and said the force needs to do better, but his apology was rejected by some critics, who noted that black people have been asking police for years to stop treating them unfairly.

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