These changes to provincial policing standards ban police in Alberta from randomly and arbitrarily stopping members of the public and asking for personal information – a practice known as carding.
The new provisions also establish clear rules for other common encounters – known as street checks – to ensure police officers respect the rights of citizens when requesting personal information.
Alberta’s government is moving swiftly in response to concerns that carding and street checks disproportionately target members of racialized and marginalized communities.
“Members of Indigenous, Black and other racialized communities in Alberta expressed concerns about carding and street checks, and we have a responsibility to act on those legitimate concerns. The Government of Alberta supports the dedication and courage of the province’s police officers, and this historic change ensures they will continue to serve and protect our communities with the full trust and confidence of all Albertans.”
“Alberta’s government is listening carefully to the concerns of racialized communities to ensure policies reflect our highest belief in equality before the law. Today’s step to ban carding and educate the public about their rights helps ensure all Albertans are protected, while continuing to support the police officers who work hard to serve our communities.”
“The Government of Alberta is taking action against police carding, and this is another way to help ensure that our police services continue to earn and maintain the public trust.”
“Today’s announcement is a significant step in the right direction to build trust between the Black community and police services. I commend the Government of Alberta for listening to the community and taking bold action on this important issue.”
“It is great to see the Alberta government’s commitment to true reconciliation. Banning carding and establishing clear rules for common interactions between police and the public will ensure the rights of all Albertans are protected. We’ve been asking for these changes for years and want to acknowledge this government’s leadership by standing with us against racism.”
“I am delighted to be part of today’s historic announcement. Banning carding represents a significant down payment on the path to a fairer and procedurally equitable criminal justice system in our province. It brings us closer as a society in our collective quest for accountability and an enhanced sense of belonging. This is a huge victory for all Canadians. I applaud the Government of Alberta for putting an end to carding.”
“Carding is discriminatory and it violates people’s charter rights, human rights and privacy rights. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Government of Alberta for taking an excellent first step towards banning the horrible practice of carding and thus strengthening trust between racialized communities and law enforcement.”
“The Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police is in full support of the province’s guidelines on street checks. While the practice of carding has no place in policing, street checks are a valuable investigative tool that allow police officers to develop street-level intelligence while balancing the rights of all Albertans. It is important that every member of the public is treated with respect and in a fair manner, and we believe that setting these standards across the province will achieve this while strengthening relationships with the communities we serve.”
“We are pleased the provincial government has recognized the importance of the street check process and the role it plays in public safety. The Calgary Police Service policy and procedures around street checks are currently well aligned with the direction contained in what we have seen of the new policing standards. In 2016, we took strong measures to ensure our processes around street checks and the collection of personal information were sound. We post quarterly and annual reports regarding these encounters on our website, alongside education around the process as well as our policy. We will continue to work with the province on the implementation of these new standards, as well as with our communities, to ensure greater understanding and confidence in this practice.”
“These guidelines reinforce our community’s expectations of proactive and effective policing, while safeguarding and respecting the rights of our citizens. The Tsuut’ina Nation Police Service also supports the requirement to provide public education, which we believe will help further the work being done around communication and engagement within our communities. We further recognize the importance in growing knowledge of both police officers and community around street checks, but more importantly, supporting continued community dialogue and relationships.”
The Alberta government’s ban on carding will ensure consistency across the province. The new rules on street checks were developed in consultation with the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police, and recognize the value of street checks as an investigative tool for police officers to build relationships in the community while investigating crime. However, the new rules state that officers can collect personal information from members of the public only in specific circumstances, such as asking about a crime that has taken place. These interactions will be voluntary, and officers must make that clear at the outset of the interaction that citizens have no obligation to provide their personal information or answer questions.
Police services will now be required to train officers to comply with the new rules, and provide public education to help ensure that citizens know their rights when interacting with the police. The public awareness requirements for police services include holding information sessions with community groups, making information available on their websites and developing communications strategies to inform the public via social media and in various languages.
New records management and oversight requirements will ensure police services comply with the new street check rules. Police services must conduct internal reviews of street check data four times a year, and provide annual reports to the Alberta government.
The new rules are effective immediately, and the government will formalize them by including them in amendments to the Police Service Regulation in 2021.