Crown pre-charge screening would reduce racial profiling in Ontario: commission


The Ontario Human Rights Commission is recommending the province introduce a system that would see police consult with prosecutors before charging suspects.

It’s one of 10 ways the commission says the Ontario government could reduce racial profiling and overcharging.

The framework from the human rights commission says Crown pre-charge screening is already in place in some other provinces, where charges are much less likely to be withdrawn.

It notes that Black, Indigenous and other racialized people are often overcharged.

The commission also recommends making processes for investigating allegations of officer misconduct more transparent, including mandating the release of informal discipline records and allowing police forces to share information with the public while Special Investigations Unit probes are ongoing.

As it stands, the SIU Act prevents police services from disclosing information about a case while the SIU is investigating it.

“The public should know whether a subject officer is still on active front-line duty, or has been assigned elsewhere in the service limiting interaction with the public,” the commission said.

The human rights commission also suggests requiring officers to use de-escalation techniques before resorting to force.

It recommends “civilianizing” some police roles.

“Relying on officers who are armed with lethal use of force options to perform routine tasks, such as traffic enforcement and non-emergency wellness checks, diverts precious resources away from core public safety functions,” the commission said.