Chief Paul Cook
North Bay Police Service
Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police
40 College Street, Suite 605
Toronto, Ontario M5G 2J3
Dear Chief Cook,
On behalf of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), I would like to congratulate the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) for its updated version of the LEARN Guideline for Police Record Checks with a clearer presumption against disclosure of non-conviction records.
The OHRC was pleased to be part of a group of stakeholders advising on the development of the first LEARN Guideline and supported its release in 2011.
We got involved with the project after learning about the unfair impact of police records checks on people with mental health disabilities who have had non-criminal contact with police. Police record checks for employment, volunteer and other purposes also have negative impacts on other groups protected under Ontario’s Human Rights Code such as Aboriginal Peoples and racialized communities. The LEARN Guideline is an important tool to help police services balance privacy and human rights with community safety.
The OHRC would recommend that the next version of the LEARN Guideline clarify that police services should offer individuals the ability to review their police record and seek appeal at any point in time, not just during an employment or volunteer hiring process. This could help avoid unnecessary delays and unintended consequences, especially where there may be reason to suppress incidents that are no longer of concern for community safety based on, for example, an applicant’s age at the time, or documentation of a person’s current medical or rehabilitative condition. In some cases, individuals are not even aware that police have information about them on record until it is too late.
The OHRC is monitoring other issues related to the negative effects of police records including legal action underway by the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario regarding the Toronto Police Service’s practice of indiscriminately disclosing attempted suicide information via the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database.
The OHRC also supports the OACP Board’s February 2014 motion on the need to develop an evidence-based procedure to determine when non-conviction information can be disclosed, as well as public education and legislative change to ensure consistency across police services.
We are pleased to offer our assistance on any of these matters.
Barbara Hall, B.A, LL.B, Ph.D (hon.)
Yasir Naqvi, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services
Chief William Blair, Director - Toronto Police Service
Brian Beamish, Acting Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario