British Columbia

Groups alleging racial profiling demand probe into Vancouver police street checks

Indigenous and civil rights groups have asked British Columbia's police complaints commissioner to investigate a significant racial disparity in the Vancouver Police Department's use of street checks

Disproportionate rate of Indigenous people being stopped and asked for ID 'staggering'

A VPD officer checks the licence of a driver she pulled over. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

Indigenous and civil rights groups have asked British Columbia's police complaints commissioner to investigate a significant racial disparity in the Vancouver Police Department's use of street checks.

The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association say Indigenous and black people are over-represented in the police practice, often referred to as carding.

During the checks, police stop a person, obtain their identification and record personal information.

The complaint is based on a release of data under a Freedom of Information request that shows 15 per cent of all carding conducted between 2008 and 2017 was of Indigenous people, yet they make up just two per cent of the population.

The police data also says four per cent of those carded were black, despite the population in Vancouver making up less than one per cent.

Chief Bob Chamberlin, with the B.C. Union of Indian Chiefs, says the disproportionate rate at which Indigenous people are checked is "staggering."

In a statement, Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer said the force's street checks are not not based on ethnicity, nor are they random or arbitrary.

"The VPD does not control where crime falls along racial and gender lines," wrote Palmer. "It is unrealistic to expect population and crime ratios to be aligned."

The force's numbers show the majority of street checks involve Caucasians: In 2016, Caucasian's made up 46 per cent of the population and 57 per cent of total street checks.

Palmer said police are accountable to the public, and the department will review the complaint and provide a full response in the coming weeks.

With files from CBC News

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