STREET CHECKS AND CANADIAN YOUTH: A CRITICAL LEGAL ANALYSIS
Abbott, Christina M 1986-
Street checks occur when (a) a police officer engages with an individual, (b) in circumstances where the police officer does not have sufficient grounds to detain the individual, (c) the police officer elicits information from that individual, and (d) the individual’s information is stored in a police database. Street checks recently became a topic of discussion in many legal debates and in newspaper articles across Canada. Some individuals argue that street checks are conducted in a discriminatory manner and raise concerns about the constitutionality of the practice. Others argue that street checks are an important investigative tool that contributes to public safety. Unfortunately, absent from most of these debates is a discussion about the impact of street checks on youth, who are heavily targeted by the practice. Stastistics reveal that young males from racial minority groups are disproportionately targeted for police stops, and the pattern is mirrored in street check data. Some of the harmful effects of disproportionately conducting street checks on young racialized males will be considered in my thesis. In my thesis, I analyze the constitutionality of street checks using the framework of the Youth Criminal Justice Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that are engaged by street checks include, but are not limited to, the right to not be arbitrarily detained, the right to silence, the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, and the right to counsel. The Youth Criminal Justice Act occasionally offers rights and protections that overlap with those offered by the Charter, for example, the right to silence and the right to counsel; however, the Youth Criminal Justice Act also extends beyond Charter protections, by restricting the use and retention of youth records and guaranteeing the right to enhanced procedural protections. Next, I discuss the Regulations that were passed in Ontario to govern street check practices, and I analyze whether the Regulations sufficiently address the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Youth Criminal Justice Act infringements. Ultimately, I conclude that concerns continue to exist regarding the constitutionality of street checks and that street checks involving young people should be banned. It does not appear that any Regulations or policies could be passed that would allow street checks to be conducted in a manner that complies with the Youth Criminal Justice Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
DegreeMaster of Laws (LL.M.)
CommitteeCarter, Mark; Luther, Glen; Green, Ross
Copyright DateOctober 2017