Quebec issues street check guidelines aimed at preventing discriminatory stops

MONTREAL — Quebec’s Public Security Department has released guidelines for the province’s police forces on street checks to ensure they aren’t random, unfounded or discriminatory.

The guidelines were made public Friday and the department says they’ve been added to the province’s police practices guide, a reference document made available to police.

A spokeswoman for the department says it was necessary for the province to introduce the guidelines given the current social context in Quebec.

But some rights groups question why such a policy was introduced without any consultation, and they’re raising concerns about missing elements.

The provincial policy mirrors one introduced by Montreal police in July aimed at curbing arbitrary and discriminatory stops.

Police in the province’s largest city had pledged to introduce a policy after a damning 2019 report by independent researchers showed people from certain backgrounds were much more likely than others to be stopped by police.

The provincial guidelines say that while stops are essential for public safety, they must be based on observable facts or information that gives police reasonable grounds to intervene.

That could including assisting someone, preventing a crime, a breach of the law or incivility, collecting information or identifying a wanted person.

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