Carding ban has led to spike in violence: Peel police chief

By Cristina Howorun

The provincial ban on the controversial police practice of carding has led to a spike in violence across Peel Region, according to the chief of Peel Regional Police.

“I believe there are more people carrying knives and guns than ever before,” said Chief Jennifer Evans.

Evans told Peel Regional Council that since carding and street checks became outlawed last year, Peel has witnessed a rise in violent crimes.

“It’s not just that we are seeing an increase in shootings; we’re seeing an increase in the amount of victims from 24 to 40 over the past few years,” explained Evans.

“What we are seeing is that at a homicide or attempted homicide there are multiple firearms being used by multiple offenders and sometimes they are discharging 27 or 30 rounds.”

Evans added that those bullets could easily hit innocent bystanders.

Howard Morton of the Law Union of Ontario said while the information might not be physically captured, he believes the practice of carding is still going on.

“As far as we’re concerned, they’ve stopped the obtaining of person or identifying information as the regulation which was passed a year and a half ago requires,” she said. “But in terms of stopping people on the street and asking them why are they in a neighbourhood or what do they have in their pocket, that sort of thing, street checks both in Toronto and in Peel have continued, we believe, at the same rate as before. Although because there are no cards anymore, it can’t be tracked.”

Data provided by Peel Regional Police found an estimated 426 rounds of bullets were fired in Peel Region last year, up from 272 in 2016. The number of shootings rose from 38 to 40 over that same time period.

Provincial regulations banning the controversial practice of carding came into effect on Jan. 1, 2017. Under the new guidelines, race is prohibited for being any part of a police officer’s reason for attempting to collect someone’s identifying information.

Police must tell people they have a right not to talk with them, and refusing to co-operate or walking away cannot then be used as reasons to compel information.

Police can gather personal information during routine traffic stops, when someone is being arrested or detained, or when a search warrant is executed.

“As far as we were concerned throughout the long history of carding, all carding ever accomplished … apart from harassing young people to the extent that there was complete distrust in communities with respect to the police, it provided some information such as are your parents separated or divorced, addresses, names of associates and so on,” Morton said. “So it was a pure intelligence-gathering operation.”

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