The Regina Police Service has unveiled its new policy on street checks, or carding, and for the most part people are free to walk away from them without providing any information.
Carding, referred to by RPS as contact interviews, happens when police interact with the public and ask for information unrelated to a specific incident or offence. If an officer is just talking with someone with no cause for concern, then it’s not considered a contact interview.
“Citizens have no obligation to answer questions or provide identification during contact interviews and are free to leave at any time,” a report prepared by Regina police Chief Evan Bray to the Board of Police Commissioners reads.
“They are not subject to detention or arrest nor are they chargeable for declining to answer questions or for departing the location.”
Policy says an appropriate situation for carding, or a contact interview, is when an officer has concerns from the behaviour of someone or there are concerns about officer or subject safety.
That would include police interacting with someone who appears lost, confused, frightened or in need of assistance, for example. It would also be appropriate if someone were in an area for “no apparent reason,” such as being in a commercial or industrial area late at night when businesses are all closed.
The policy says police should not conduct street checks based on:
- Location in an area known to experience high levels of criminal activity and/or victimization.
- Actual or perceived race, ethnicity or national origin.
- Colour, religion, age, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation.
- Physical or intellectual disability or impairment, mental disorder or medical condition.
- Any other ground of discrimination prohibited at law.
- Socio-economic circumstances, or other personal characteristic of a similar nature.
Any time a street check is conducted, it must be free of physical or psychological intimidation, it must be fair, impartial and informal and conducted in a way responsive to the public’s concern.