Prof. Scot Wortley, doctor of criminology at the University of Toronto, presented his independent report on the issue of police street checks March 27.
After visiting Nova Scotia in fall 2016, a United Nations working group raised serious concerns regarding ongoing systemic discrimination faced by people of African descent, including the practice of racial profiling in police street checks.
In its published report, the working group stated that it is deeply concerned by the structural racism in many Canadian institutions and the systemic anti-black racism that continues to have a negative impact on the human rights situation of African-Canadians.
In 2017, the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission announced it would collaborate with community and police to study the issue of street checks. Prof. Wortley was selected by the commission to review all available data, consult stakeholders and to provide a report with recommendations.
"The research clearly demonstrates that police street check practices have had a disproportionate and negative impact on the African Nova Scotian community," said Prof. Wortley. "Street checks have contributed to the criminalization of black youth, eroded trust in law enforcement and undermined the perceived legitimacy of the entire criminal justice system.
"Concrete action is required. I hope this report can make a difference and lead to a stronger, more trusting relationship between the police and the community"
The report examined 12 years of data from Halifax Regional Police and the RCMP. The commission also organized 11 community consultative meetings, interviews with police and community representatives and an online survey with more than 500 participants which helped to supplement the in-person consultations.
Minster of Justice Mark Furey, members of the media, representatives from community and the police were among those who attended today's event where Prof. Wortley spoke about his research and highlighted recommendations.
"The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission continues to see evidence of racism and discrimination faced by African Nova Scotians," said Christine Hanson, the commission's director and CEO. "This report clearly demonstrates that street checks are a significant issue affecting the black community and the commission is committed to working with all parties to ensure that people are not subjected to discriminatory treatment such as racial profiling.
"We call on governments at all levels to move quickly to address the report's recommendations."