Montreal

Quebec issues street check guidelines aimed at preventing discriminatory stops

Rights groups say the policy was introduced without any consultation, and they're raising concerns about missing elements.

Rights groups say the policy was introduced without any consultation

Quebec Department of Public Security says it was necessary for the province to introduce the guidelines given the current social context in Quebec. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Quebec's Public Security Department has released guidelines for the province's police forces on street checks to ensure they aren't random, unfounded or discriminatory.

The guidelines were made public Friday and the department says they've been added to the province's police practices guide, a reference document made available to police.

A spokeswoman for the department says it was necessary for the province to introduce the guidelines given the current social context in Quebec.

But some rights groups question why such a policy was introduced without any consultation, and they're raising concerns about missing elements.

The provincial policy mirrors one introduced by Montreal police in July aimed at curbing arbitrary and discriminatory stops.

Police in the province's largest city had pledged to introduce a policy after a damning 2019 report by independent researchers showed people from certain backgrounds were much more likely than others to be stopped by police.

That report found that Indigenous people and Black people were four to five times more likely than white people to be stopped by police.

Arab people between the ages of 15 and 24 were four times more likely than white people of the same age to be targeted for a street check, according to the researchers.

The provincial guidelines say that while stops are essential for public safety, they must be based on observable facts or information that gives police reasonable grounds to intervene.

That includes assisting someone, preventing a crime, a breach of the law or incivility, collecting information or identifying a wanted person.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

(CBC)

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