New OHRC report confirms Black people disproportionately arrested, charged, subjected to use of force by Toronto police
A Disparate Impact, the second interim report in the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s inquiry into racial profiling and racial discrimination of Black persons by the Toronto Police Service (TPS), confirms that Black people are more likely than others to be arrested, charged, over-charged, struck, shot or killed by Toronto police.
A Disparate Impact includes two expert reports from criminologist Dr. Scot Wortley, who analyzed quantitative TPS data ranging from 2013 to 2017. The results highlighted in Racial Disparity in Arrests and Charges: An analysis of arrest and charge data from the Toronto Police Service, and Use of force by the Toronto Police Service: Final report, are highly disturbing, and confirm what Black communities have said for decades – that Black people bear a disproportionate burden of law enforcement.
For example, although they represent only 8.8% of Toronto’s population:
- Black people represented almost one-third (32%) of all the charges in the charge dataset, while White people and other racialized groups were under-represented
- Only one-fifth (20%) of all charges resulted in conviction, but charges against Black people were more likely to be withdrawn and less likely to result in a conviction – this raises systemic concerns about charging practices
- Black people represented over one-third (34%) of people involved in single-charge “out-of-sight” driving charges (such as driving without valid insurance), which could only be discovered after the police have observed the race of the driver or stopped and questioned the driver
- Black people represented almost four in 10 (38%) people involved in cannabis charges, despite conviction rates and many studies showing that they use cannabis at similar rates to White people
- Black people were involved in approximately one-quarter (25%) of all Special Investigations Unit (SIU) cases resulting in death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault, and almost four in 10 (39%) cases involving lower-level use of force (where force did not rise to the SIU threshold) – and this over-representation cannot be explained by factors such as patrol zones in low-crime and high-crime neighbourhoods, violent crime rates and/or average income
- Black people were more likely to be involved in use of force cases that involved proactive policing (for example, when an officer decides to stop and question someone) than reactive policing (for example, when the police respond to a call for assistance).
The OHRC continues to hear from Black communities in Toronto about the damaging effects of policing, including over-charging and excessive use of force, and the data released today is consistent with the concerns of systemic racism and anti-Black bias in policing we have heard for over four decades.
“The time for debate about whether anti-Black bias exists is over. The OHRC calls on the TPS, TPSB, the City of Toronto and the Government of Ontario to take immediate action to address systemic and anti-Black racism in policing and to respect and protect racialized people in Toronto,” said Ena Chadha, OHRC Interim Chief Commissioner. “It is time to make transformative changes in the institutions and systems of law enforcement that produce such disparate outcomes – community trust and safety, especially the safety of Black lives, depend on it.”
In November 2017, the OHRC launched its inquiry into racial profiling and racial discrimination of Black persons by the TPS to help build trust between the police and Black communities. The goal of the inquiry is to pinpoint problem areas and make recommendations to eliminate them.
The next phase of the inquiry will involve preparing a final report, which will examine training, policies, procedures and accountability mechanisms. The final report will include findings from our engagement with Black communities and police interviews, and recommendations to policing stakeholders to address racial discrimination.
A Disparate Impact: Second interim report on the inquiry into racial profiling and racial discrimination of Black persons by the Toronto Police Service
Racial Disparity in Arrests and Charges: An analysis of arrest and charge data from the Toronto Police Service
Use of force by the Toronto Police Service: Final report
A Collective Impact: Interim report on the inquiry into racial profiling and racial discrimination of Black persons by the Toronto Police Service (2018)
OHRC interim report on Toronto Police Service inquiry shows disturbing results (2018)
OHRC launches public interest inquiry into racial profiling and racial discrimination by the Toronto Police Service (2017)
Under Suspicion: Research and consultation report on racial profiling
Manager, Communications & Issues Management
Ontario Human Rights Commission/Commission ontarienne des droits de la personne