Many Canadian police agencies “actively suppress” racial data when delivering their annual crime reports to Ottawa — a trend that is both disturbing and growing, according to a study released Wednesday.
The study, published in the Canadian Journal of Law and Society, said the continued “whitewashing” of criminal data makes it virtually impossible for researchers to gauge whether police are dealing with racial and ethnic minority groups in an equitable manner.
“Community relationships are so important for policing. If you want to develop better relationships, show you’re working on issues these communities are concerned about,” said lead author Paul Millar, an assistant professor of criminology at Nipissing University in North Bay, Ont., in an interview. “Be accountable.”
Police agencies gave several reasons Wednesday for why they don’t collect or report racial characteristics of the people they come in contact with.
RCMP spokesman Sgt. Greg Cox said asking a victim or accused person to identify their race “may give rise to human rights and privacy concerns.”