Halifax police preparing to purge 14 years' worth of street-check data
Halifax Regional Police plan to delete 14 years’ worth of street-check data.
It's following one of the recommendations in the Wortley Report, which found that African-Nova Scotians in the Halifax area are six times more likely to be stopped and questioned by police.
Not all the data is being dumped, however, and the recommendation to purge street check records from to 2005-2019 was the focus of Monday afternoon's monthly Board of Police Commissioners meeting.
The plan is to have most of those records gone by December 2020.
Interim police chief and deputy police chief Robin McNeil says that gives researchers and the public time to go through them, if they wish, or time to file a freedom of information request. Some of that data will also have to be saved if it’s involved in an investigation or court case.
McNeil says unlike criminal charges, there's no policy in place when it comes to retention of street check records. He calls this “a gap in system” and says it should’ve been addressed a while ago.
“This was a gap that we identified, and so the report, thankfully, has highlighted it,” McNeil said. “We recognized that we weren't going to wait that much longer to make a decision on that data. Now, this could change in the long-term. There may be different directives, both from a board and from a province perspective, but in the meantime, we felt it prudent to take some action today and that's why we've taken the steps we have.”
At the same meeting, a group called the Coalition to Ban Street Checks made a presentation to the board.
Since May, they've received more than 3,500 signatures in support of their motion to ban street checks.
Justice Minister Mark Furey announced a province-wide moratorium on random street checks in April, but the coalition says it “has no teeth,” and they'll continue to gather signatures over the summer before taking their file to the provincial government.
“Lots of people, many white like me, who are not directly affected, are wanting to do something, to stand and support, and to let all of you know that street checks are wrong and need to stop immediately,” said Nancy Hunter of the Coalition to Ban Street Checks.
McNeil says he expects the recommendation to delete those records will be formally adopted soon.
This is the second of three public meetings on the police street checks report.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Amanda Debison.