Police in Ontario frontline has been collecting personal data of individuals and keeping them for an undetermined amount of time. The practice of stopping drivers on the grounds of suspicion or interest has been around in Ontario since the 1950s. They were initially called “suspect cards” and then “contact cards” to “community engagement”.
It was noticed by George Knia Singh, a criminal lawyer, in 2013, that the information collected was not necessarily accurate and were never destroyed. Many people are unaware that when police stop drivers with a carding system, they were taking down notes and information that may be related or not related to the current scenario or incident.
The information collected may vary from the physical appearance of the driver, the mental health of the individual, previous convictions, or other social security information, relationships or even financial state. The practice is not uniform all over Ontario, and the terms on which this information can be handed out depend on a loose-ended condition.
While many people who have been recorded through police carding are often not convicted, Human Rights activists have debated the controversial practice, calling it discriminatory. Many feel that the police pull over drivers based on racial and ethnical backgrounds because even though the black community in Ontario consists of only 8.3% of the total population, they make up for 25% of the cards filled.
What concerns the citizens is the amount of time that the police hold on to these records and the policies that allow them to expose this information even when they are “non-conviction” charges. These charges often prevent individuals from applying for certain jobs and limiting their opportunities in cases where police records are required.
Although Toronto police have been trying to modify and create policies that will lessen racial profiling, providing training to frontline officers and improve the relationship with the community, the practice of police carding is still very relevant.