Canadian police agencies suppressing data on racism: Study

   Feb 2, 1:05 pm

Toronto (Canada), Feb.2 (ANI): University of Toronto and Nipissing criminologists have in a study charged Canadian police agencies with suppressing data on race.

The study by Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto's Centre for Criminology, and Paul Millar, an associate professor at Nipissing University's School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, is titled "Whitewashing Criminal Justice in Canada: Preventing Research through Data Suppression", and appears in the Canadian Journal of Law and Society.

"If we are serious about reducing racism and making our law responsive to behaviour instead of personal characteristics, we must systematically collect data on race," said Millar, the lead author of the study.

"Suppressing race statistics makes quantitative anti-racism research impossible. Further, failure to collect data does not prevent racial profiling. Stigmatization may still occur but without public knowledge of it," the authors write.

The researchers found that where race is reported, it is often done so inconsistently.

For example, some surveys may explicitly identify Aboriginal while others identify only "visible minority".

Visible minority is not a useful category because it combines racial groups that are over-represented in the criminal justice system with others that are under-represented, thus obscuring problems involving race.

The authors evaluated available data on victims and accused persons in Canada, including Statistics Canada surveys and countrywide surveys of police-reported crime.

Millar and Owusu-Bempah argue transparency is key to better relationships between the police and the communities they serve.

"Information on race is essential for the equitable provision of policing services and for the development of police policy," said Owusu-Bempah.

" Police agencies in this country spend millions of dollars a year on initiatives to improve relations with racialized communities and to reduce racial discrimination within policing. Without adequate information about the racial background of individuals who come into contact with, or are dealt with by the police, these initiatives cannot be accurately developed or evaluated for effectiveness," he added. (ANI)

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