The Police Records Check Coalition (PRCC) is raising awareness. Now is the time to end the discriminatory and stigmatizing practice of requesting, releasing and making decisions based on non-conviction information, in particular mental health and addictions-related information.

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My Health is Always My Business

Police respond to medical emergencies all the time. If you've been the victim of a crime or suffered an accident, you know that police will protect your personal health information. But if you call emergency services because of a mental health need, the same rules don't apply. Police may decide to release your health information when you apply for a job, volunteer position, or even school placement.

Background Checks should Not Discriminate

The exceptional discretion by police to disclose information results in discrimination against persons with mental illness. Their police record can follow them for decades. We shouldn't penalize people who reach out for crisis help. Emergency services should be available to all without fear of life-long consequences and stigmatization.

Police Records Check Coalition

The Police Records Check Coalition (PRCC) is raising awareness. Now is the time to halt the disclosure of non-criminal mental health information in police background checks. By constructively engaging directly with police, civilian boards, government, public complaint systems, and individuals, the PRCC aims to achieve a legislative prohibition on the disclosure of mental health information.

ACTION ALERT: Let the Ontario government know you are concerned about police record checks

Hello!

We believe that now is a critical time to call for government action on this issue. We need our government to listen to recommendations from the community groups, policing partners, non-profit and business sectors and legislate standards for police checks in Ontario. Please take a few minutes this week to write Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Yasir Naqvi (ynaqvi.mpp@liberal.ola.org) and copy Premier Wynne (kwynne.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org). We have attached a template of a letter you can readily adapt and send, and outlined below several other steps you can take.
Right now is a key time to request the government take action. Premier Wynne's mandate letters required the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services to look at this issue. We know the Ministry is actively considering how to move forward. They need to hear your voices and concern.

What can you do?

1. Write to Minister Naqvi on behalf of your organization, expressing your support for legislating the standard in the current LEARN Guidelines and bringing consistency to policing services across Ontario. You can use our attached template letter to get you started!

2. Write to the Minister Naqvi to explain, based on the experiences of the clients you serve, why this issue is and continues to be important. We know that individuals across the province continue to be excluded from education, employment and volunteer opportunities. Their stories make this issue real - and the government needs to hear about the impacts.

3. If you yourself have been prejudiced by a non-conviction record, please write to the government to share your story. Your voice, and your experience, matters!

Background and progress to date

As many of you know, numerous organizations have been working hard to reform the way police record checks are performed in Ontario. Traditionally in Ontario, a wide variety of non-conviction information (unproven allegations, mental health contacts, police contacts, etc.) has been released on a variety of levels of police checks. People with mental health issues who had contact with police during a crisis are being denied jobs and volunteer placements due to their police records. Students who have had minor contact with the police and criminal justice system are getting kicked out of their programs and are denied opportunities to complete their volunteer hours and student placements. Community safety is important - but regularly releasing these types of records are not helping us keep our vulnerable community members safe. On the contrary, they further disadvantage these vulnerable members and pose significant barriers to social inclusion and participation.

In July 2014, after extensive collaborative dialogue, discussion, consultation and research with community partners, the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) released a revised guideline to police record checks. The new guidelines, which significantly restrict the amount of non-conviction information released on record checks, give individuals who have been stigmatized and prejudiced by these records in the past a new ray of hope. Police contact information, including mental health related apprehensions and contacts, would not be released on any level of check. Instances where a person was charged but the charges were withdrawn, dismissed or stayed would only be released under exceptional circumstances on the vulnerable sector check. In our view, although there are some outstanding issues, the current version of the Guidelines represent a best practice standard in Ontario.

But we have a problem - the guidelines are voluntary. Not every police service has signed on. And some of the largest police services in the province appear reluctant to make any changes to their practices. Many police services have said they will implement the changes - but many is not enough. It is unfair and unjust that a person who is transported to the hospital by police might have that information disclosed on a record check if they live in Toronto, but would be protected from discrimination and stigma if they lived elsewhere in the province.

We also have a solution - legislation. We need the government to take the hard work done by civil society organizations and the OACP, and make it binding on all police services in Ontario. We need one standard across the province, and we need the government to require police services to adopt it. Legislation on this subject is a goal that is shared by community groups, policing partners, the non-profit sector and many, many others.

For more information on police record checks and non-conviction records see www.ccla.org/recordchecks and http://www.johnhoward.on.ca/download-category/policy-publications

Many thanks,

PRCC Co-Chairs

File attachments: 

ACTION ALERT DUE FEB 21: Support the end to disclosure of non-conviction information on police record checks

Dear PRCC members and supporters,

As you may be aware at the end of the month the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) will be considering recommendations from the OACP’s LEARN subcommittee regarding the release of non-conviction information on police record checks. These recommendations were developed by the LEARN subcommittee and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association following a community consultation
in November 2013, in which the majority of community organizations and police representatives agreed that this practice does not increase public safety, but rather creates barriers for already marginalized communities and vulnerable individuals.

PRCC strongly believes that disclosure of non-conviction information is stigmatizing and discriminatory and that this practice should stop. Here is where we need your help. As OACP considers the LEARN subcommittee recommendations, we invite you to write to your local chief of police and express your support to end disclosure of non-conviction information
on police record checks. Please send any letters or statements of support by February 21st, 2014 and please copy PRCC on the correspondence that you send in support of this issue – it will help us present a stronger case as well.

We’ve attached a template letter which you can use to relay your concerns to your local police forces. To find the contact information for your local division/chief, follow this link: http://www.oacp.on.ca/careers-policing-links/law-enforcement-organizations

For more information about PRCC, click here:
http://www.mentalhealthpolicerecords.ca

Thank you all for your support!

Best,
PRCC co-chairs.

December 11, 2013 - STATEMENT: Requesting, releasing and making decisions based on non-conviction information is discriminatory and stigmatizing

TORONTO - Recently, two Canadians were stopped at the U.S. border because of their mental health records – in one case clinical depression and a hospitalization in 2012, and in the other bipolar disorder and a suicide attempt made 20 years ago. There are more than a dozen cases like those of Ellen Richardson and Amanda Box, which have been recorded by the Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office and likely many more that have gone unreported...

To read the full Statement see the attached PDF.

File attachments: 

PRCC Presents at the 2013 Provincial Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee Conference

The Co-Chairs of the Police Record Check Coalition gave a presentation at the recent Provincial Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee 2013 Conference, "The Changing World from Youth to Elderly in Human Services & Justice”. The PRCC presentation, entitled “Addictions, Mental Health and Police Records: An examination of the impact of non-conviction records, issues and solutions”, was attended by over 160 professionals from the justice and mental health sectors. Through this 90-minute workshop, the PRCC provided an overview of the issues surrounding non-conviction records and explored the impact of non-conviction records on individuals with mental health, addictions and other human service needs. The presentation also included a review of relevant legislation and policy informing the disclosure of this information, employer best practices around requesting background checks, and a “common sense” and evidence-led approach to hiring.

The PRCC welcomes future opportunities to present on issues and solutions to the issues flowing from the retention and disclosure of non-conviction information. Please get in touch.

In addition, two of the PRCC co-chairs, Abby Deshman of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Jacqueline Tasca of the John Howard Society of Ontario, are engaging in a provincial public education tour funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario on the above topics relating to non-conviction records and other issues, commencing in 2014. Please email Abby (adeshman@ccla.org ) or Jacqueline (jtasca@johnhoward.on.ca ) if you or your organization would be interested in hosting or attending one of these presentations.

PRCC Meeting May 16, 2012

The Police Record Check Coalition will be meeting May 16, 2012 at the offices of the CMHA Ontario, 180 Dundas St. W., 23rd floor, at 2:30PM.

The meeting will begin with a roundtable discussion reviewing recent PRCC activities and other issues across the province. In light of the fact that the Coalition has successfully achieved it original mandate, attending members are then invited to help the PRCC set new goals and objectives for 2012 - 2013. Check out our About the PRCC page for information on supporting the Coalition.

Please send us an email if you or your organization would like to attend. Seating is limited. Minutes will be posted to this website shortly after the meeting.

Download the meeting agenda.

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PRCC Connect


Public Speakers

The Police Record Check Coalition regularly engages in stakeholder consultation, public education, and information sessions on all issues related to police background checks, mental health records, and your rights under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Police Services Act, and the new OACP Guideline on Police Record Checks.

Please send us an email if you would like us to speak to your organization.