photo above: Vancouver police report they dramatically reduced the number of street checks in 2020.
WN: When every study conducted across Canada in the past and more recently indicated ubiquitous police racism (indeed in all facets of the criminal justice system1), police needed urgently and stringently to be held accountable.
Vancouver police say they cut the number of street checks by 94 per cent in 2020, but their data still shows a disproportionate number of Indigenous and Black people being stopped by police without evidence of a crime.
The Vancouver police board appeared satisfied with the analysis presented at its meeting Thursday. But a coalition that filed a complaint about the practice in 2018 says it doesn’t matter how few street checks are done by police — the fact that they are still happening continues to be a problem.
“The issue isn’t whether there are more or less street checks, the issue is that street checks are illegal and they shouldn’t happen,” said Harsha Walia, the director of the BC Civil Liberties Association.
“The entire framework of the Vancouver Police Department around street checks is really troubling, because it avoids the core questions that were at the core of our complaint, which is that there is no utility to street checks, that there is no basis for them in the law.”
The department’s data shows that police conducted 261 street checks in 2020, down from 3,672 in 2019.
But Black and Indigenous people continue to be over-represented in the checks. From 2012 to 2020, 14 to 16 per cent of the people street-checked in Vancouver every year have been Indigenous, although Indigenous people make up just 2.2 per cent of the overall population.
From 2012 to 2020, between four and 5.9 per cent of people street checked have been Black, despite making up just one per cent of the total population.
Drazen Manojlovic, a data analyst for the VPD, told the police board Thursday that the 2020 numbers are overstated, as 186 of reported street checks were misclassified and only 75 interactions should be recorded as street checks.
He said the racial disparity reflects the disproportionate involvement of racialized people in the criminal justice system, as victims of crime and people who are charged and incarcerated.
Please click on: Vancouver Police ChecksFootnotes