UPDATE (January 9, 2017 3:40 p.m.)
The street check data preliminary analysis 2005-2016, which was discussed earlier today at the Board of Police Commissioners' meeting, is now available.
January 9, 2017
Halifax Regional Police release street check data
In response to a request under the Freedom of Information Protection of Privacy Act, we provided data on Halifax Regional Police street checks for 2012-2016 to a local media outlet. The information requested included the number of street checks entered into our system and the ethnicity of the individuals linked to the street checks.
A street check is an entry in our system of when an officer witnesses possible suspicious activity, observes something, and/or interacts with someone that may be of significance to investigations. The information entered into our system as a street check is used as intelligence to help prevent, detect and solve crime in our community.
As a result of the request for the information and in consideration of now having a research coordinator at Halifax Regional Police, Dr. Chris Giacomantonio, we examined our street check data for the last 11 years (2005 – 2016). The preliminary analysis conducted by Dr. Giacomantonio indicates that the majority of street check records involve people with a prior charge history and that the number of street checks increases as the number of prior charges increases. What the analysis also shows, however, is that visible minorities, particularly black people, are overrepresented in the data; so too are young people and males.
For those entity records where the ethnicity of the individual was recorded, 18.0% of unique individuals checked from 2005-2016 were identified as a visible minority: 11.08% black, 3.38% Arab/West Asian, 1.33% Aboriginal, 0.46% South Asian, 0.87% East/South East Asian, and 0.88% other. The requested street check information for 2012-2016, a summary of which is included below, reveals similar findings.
The overrepresentation of black people reflects disproportionality in Nova Scotia’s justice system, but ethnicity, neighbourhood characteristics, and police deployment may also contribute. A deeper analysis of the data is needed in order to better understand the numbers and what may be contributing to the disproportionalities in our data. This work is underway and we are very pleased to have the resources that enable this important project.
For 2012-2016, there are 43,931 entity records (information related to individuals involved in a specific street check) in our system. The ethnic breakdown of the data is as follows:
ARAB / WEST ASIAN
EAST /SOUTHEAST ASIAN
 The Versadex system offers seven ethnicity categories as well as ‘unknown’. The ethnicity category is selected from a drop-down menu by the officer, normally based on perception (rather than e.g. self-identification by the individual involved in the check).