Nova Scotia's justice department provides update on work relating to police-community relations

Province introduced permanent ban on street checks in October 2019

Nova Scotia's justice department provides update on work relating to police-community relations

The Nova Scotia government has provided an update on its progress on addressing Dr. Scot Wortley’s report which included 53 recommendations covering the banning of street checks, regulating street checks, collecting data regarding police stops and improving police-community relations.

The Wortley Report, released in March 2019, provided 24 recommendations relating to the regulation of street checks, which have been addressed by the provincial government’s decision in October 2019 to prohibit street checks. Of the 29 remaining recommendations, Nova Scotia’s justice department leads the work to address 12 recommendations, four of which have been completed and eight of which are pending.

Regarding the recommendations for which the work has been completed, Nova Scotia’s justice minister has done the following:

  • issued a directive that street checks cannot be used as part of a quota system and as a performance management tool, which ensures that officers comply with their Code of Ethics, the applicable policies, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, human rights legislation and the Wortley Report
  • issued a moratorium on street checks of pedestrians and passengers in motor vehicles in April 2019
  • announced a permanent ban on street checks in October 2019
  • worked with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to coordinate delivery of its African Canadian Experiences training to municipal police
  • facilitated the creation of the Wortley Report Research Committee in September 2020

The Wortley Report Research Committee comprises representatives from police, from African Nova Scotian Affairs, from the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, from the justice department, from African Nova Scotian community organizations and African Nova Scotian community representatives from the Northern Region, Cape Breton Region and Southwest Region.

The committee seeks to assess the effects of the street check ban on community-police relations, to study race-based data collection models on police stops and to look into the creation of a permanent data collection system for recording information on civilian stops.

As regards the recommendations for which the efforts are underway, Nova Scotia’s justice department has been doing the following:

  • engaging with the African Nova Scotian organizations that participated in the Wortley Report Action Planning Working Group
  • working on the Know Your Rights Initiative, for which it arranged an initial meeting with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, Nova Scotia Legal Aid, RCMP, Halifax Regional Police, African Nova Scotian Affairs and the Office of L’Nu Affairs
  • planning to form a committee to review and to improve the police complaints process
  • developing an African Nova Scotian Justice Plan and an Indigenous Justice Strategy to assist in tackling the issue of systemic racism in the criminal justice system

The justice department is also assisting with efforts regarding the report’s other recommendations, including by dedicating $100,000 to the support of law enforcement training for improving the police’s cultural competency in relation to ethics, accountability and racially-biased policing. The justice department will keep collaborating with stakeholders to address the pending recommendations.

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