Report and Draft Recommendations: Police-Reported Indigenous and Racialized Identity Statistics via the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey

Canadian Centre for Justice and Community Safety Statistics (CCJCSS)

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Table of Contents

Executive Summary

In recent years, there have been increasing demands for better disaggregated data to shed light on people's diverse experiences. Disaggregated data can help to identify and respond to issues of social inequities, discrimination, and systemic racism within Canadian society. Concerns for the disparate treatment of Indigenous and racialized peoples in the Canadian criminal justice system revealed important gaps in the availability of disaggregated data. This situation is especially true for information on the identity of people who encounter police for various reasons, including criminal incidents.

In response to these growing demands, Statistics Canada and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) proposed an initiative to collect data on the Indigenous and racialized identity of all victims and accused persons reported through the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey. Police report to Statistics Canada information on all criminal incidents that come to their attention through the UCR. The data are used for research and statistical purposes in order to monitor the nature and extent of police-reported crime in Canada.

Accordingly, Statistics Canada embarked in an engagement process in July 2020 to seek feedback from diverse perspectives on this initiative, including the perspectives of Indigenous and racialized organizations and police services. First, experts and partners provided feedback on how to proceed with the initiative. Then, Statistics Canada widely distributed a written engagement document and held virtual roundtables between July 2021 and February 2022. The large majority of participants in the engagement supported this data collection. The feedback received has led to the development of the following recommendations on the best way to move forward with this initiative:

  • Recommendation 1
    The collection of information on the Indigenous and racialized identity of accused persons and victims of crimes through the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey should be conducted through both the "officer perception" method and the "self-identification" method.
  • Recommendation 2
    The collection of information on the Indigenous and racialized identity of accused persons and victims of crimes through the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey be conducted using Statistics Canada's standardized population group categories for both the "self-identification" method and "officer perception" method.
  • Recommendation 3
    The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police work together with Statistics Canada and other parties of interest to establish national collection standards and guidelines that will integrate with police procedures, processes, and workflow.
  • Recommendation 4
    Any training delivered by Statistics Canada or the police community should emphasize the importance of the data collection initiative and the benefits for the Canadian population, policy-makers, and the police.
  • Recommendation 5
    The analysis and use of information on the Indigenous and racialized identity of accused persons and victims of crimes be done in a manner that reflects the realities experienced by Indigenous and racialized communities through the inclusion of context to all its publications and related dissemination products.
  • Recommendation 6
    To ensure consistency, the standards developed in the context of this initiative should be considered for future data collection within justice and community safety sectors.

Acknowledgements

The Canadian Centre for Justice and Community Safety Statistics would like to thank all the participants who submitted written feedback, took place in the roundtables and otherwise provided comments. Thank you all for taking the time to contribute to our report.

Part 1: Introduction

1.1. The Initiative

On July 15, 2020, Statistics Canada and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) released a joint statement announcing their commitment to working on the collection of data on the Indigenous and racialized identity of all victims and accusedFootnote 1 persons as it pertains to criminal incidents through the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey.Footnote 2 The UCR Survey collects information on all criminal incidents reported by Canadian police services to monitor the nature and extent of police-reported crime in Canada. This mutual commitment is in response to growing demands for such information as a way of contributing to a better understanding of the experiences of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and racialized communities when interacting with the police.

The purpose of this initiative is not the oversight or evaluation of individual police officers. Nor is it intended to single out Indigenous and racialized communities for policing and enforcement purposes. Instead, it seeks to provide insights and further understanding of experiences faced by Indigenous and racialized peoples to address systemic issues of racism, discrimination, and inequity within the Canadian criminal justice system.Footnote 3 Although this initiative focuses solely on police-reported criminal incidents, it will nonetheless help shed light on the experiences of Indigenous and racialized communities as it relates to policing and the criminal justice system.

1.2. Contextualizing the Need for Data

In recent years, there have been increasing demands for better disaggregated data on people's diverse experiences as part of a response to problems of social inequities, discrimination, and systemic racism within Canadian society (Canadian Heritage, 2019; Canadian Race Relations Foundation, 2015; David & Mitchell, 2021; Government of Ontario, 2021; Millar & Owusu-Bempah, 2011; Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2015a). Such detailed information is crucial in improving our understanding of these issues, but also for providing information for evidence-based policies, helping in the development of targets and benchmarks to monitor progress, and for providing information to assess the effectiveness of programs, services and initiatives (Canadian Race Relations Foundation, 2015).

Concerns for the disparate treatment and over-representation of Indigenous and racialized peoples in the Canadian criminal justice system revealed important gaps in the availability of disaggregated data. This situation is especially true for information on the identity of people experiencing encounters with the police. At the national level, these data are available mainly through Statistics Canada's Homicide Survey and General Social Survey. However, it remains absent from the UCR survey, Canada's primary source of information on police-reported data. This survey collects statistics on all criminal incidents recorded by police services to monitor the nature and extent of police-reported crimes in the country.

While restricted to criminal incidentsFootnote 4, collecting information on the Indigenous and racialized identity of all accused persons and victims of crime may serve as a crucial step to better understanding the process by which certain groups experience disparate involvement in the Canadian criminal justice system (David & Mitchell, 2021; Millar & Owusu-Bempah, 2011). Indeed, the current lack of detailed information is a significant obstacle to our ability to understand this serious problem (Canadian Race Relations Foundation, 2015; David & Mitchell, 2021; Millar & Owusu-Bempah, 2011; Samuels-Wortley, 2021; Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2015a; Wortley, 1999). It is crucial that disaggregated data be available at all stages of the Canadian criminal justice process to successfully understand and monitor the process by which certain groups experience criminal justice differently in this country and ultimately to enact evidence-based solutions (David & Mitchell, 2021; Wortley, 1999).

1.3. The Engagement

As the first step in this initiative, Statistics Canada embarked on an engagement process to seek feedback on the collection of Indigenous and racialized identity data through the UCR Survey. This engagement sought advice on the value of collecting this sensitive information, but also input on how the police should collect and report the data, what information should be reported by the police, how the data should be used and accessed, as well as other related concerns. This mobilization process sought to engage people from diverse perspectives, including community organizations, academics, police services, the public and other parties of interest at the national, provincial/territorial, municipal, and local government level.

The current report is a summary of the feedback heard through this engagement. The summation of these opinions and perspectives led to the development of recommendations, reassurances, and guiding principles on the best way to move forward with this initiative.

Part 2: Recommendations, Reassurances and Guiding Principles

2.1. Recommendations

There was broad support amongst respondents for this initiative across all sectors canvassed, including community organizations and police services. As such, the feedback from respondents has led to the development of the following recommendations on the best way to move forward with this initiative so that the collection of data on the Indigenous and racialized identity of accused persons and victims of crime fulfill the data needs of communities, the police, policy-makers, and the Canadian population broadly.

Recommendation 1

The collection of information on the Indigenous and racialized identity of accused persons and victims of crimes through the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey should be conducted through both the "officer perception" method and the "self-identification" method.

  1. Given their distinct nature, officer perception data and self-identification data should be collected separately through unique data fields.
  2. Identity information should not be based on third-party information and should rely on direct officer perception or a person's self-identification, except:
    1. where the person is under the age of 12Footnote 5;
    2. where the person is incapable of communicating themselves;
    3. where a community-based victim service program, a child protective service and/or a federal, provincial/territorial, or municipal agency or other entity is authorized to report an incident to the police on behalf of the victim.
  3. In the case of self-identification data, accused persons and victims should have the option to decline providing information about their Indigenous or racialized identity.
  4. During in-person police interactions, the collection of data on the Indigenous and racialized identity of accused persons and victims should include both the officer's perception and the individual's self-identification. Sequentially, the collection of officer perception data should occur prior to the collection of self-identification data to avoid influencing the officer's assessment.
  5. When criminal incidents come to the attention of police in other ways such as a phone call or online reporting, the approach to collecting data on the Indigenous and racialized identity of accused persons and victims should be adapted in keeping with Recommendation 1b.
  6. When the data collection begins, the goal is to collect both data on "officer perception" and "self-identification". However, some police services may require further changes to their operations and policies to enable the collection of information via both methods. As such, when the data collection begins, there will be flexibility for police to start collection using one method while working towards collecting both in the future.
Summary of the Feedback Regarding Recommendation 1

Feedback from the engagement process indicated that there was support for both methods of data collection. However, most respondents supported either the "self-identification" on its own or a combination of the "officer perception" and "self-identification" methods. The "self-identification" approach entails that the police provide an opportunity for accused persons and victims of crime to volunteer their Indigenous or racialized identities. This method is said to provide the most accurate data and can help empower communities by providing data representing the needs of communities. The "officer perception" approach entails that the Indigenous or racialized identities of the people involved in a criminal incident (i.e., accused persons and victims) are recorded based on a police officer's subjective assessment of these individuals. This method is deemed to be important because perceptions could influence an officer's decision-making in an interaction and lead to disparities in outcomes. Where an accused person or a victim is reluctant or refuses to self-identify, officer perceptions will also provide a means to fill the gap. A similar rationale is applied for when there might be safety concerns or when victims experience a traumatic event and asking individuals to self-identify is not appropriate.

Given that each method has different benefits, limitations, and purposes, the "combination approach" is recommended as the primary data collection methodology for this initiative as it draws on both methods. It may serve as a compromise given the inherent limitations of the aforementioned methods, while also providing flexibility given that these different approaches may not be appropriate for all purposes. This approach will ensure a fulsome data collection. It will allow police services across the country to meet both jurisdictional and national mandates regarding the collection of this information as several police services are already collecting race-based data or are in the process of beginning to do so. This approach will also help facilitate a national strategy so as to ensure consistency and comparability at the national level.

Recommendation 2

The collection of information on the Indigenous and racialized identity of accused persons and victims of crimes through the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey be conducted using Statistics Canada's standardized population group categories for both the "self-identification" method and "officer perception" method.

  1. These identity categories should be implemented so as to enable the selection of any/all of the Indigenous identities and any/all of the racialized identities.
  2. The "None of the above" category should include a write-in field so that substantive information about the identity of victims and accused persons can be captured.
  3. The "Unable to self-identify" and "Refusal to self-identify" categories are only applicable to the self-identification method.
Indigenous and racialized identities
Category Identity
Non-Indigenous/Non-Racialized Identity
0 White
Indigenous Identity
1 First Nations person (status or non-status)
2 Inuit
3 Métis
4 Indigenous person, but Indigenous group is unknown
Racialized Identity
5 South Asian (e.g., East Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan)
6 Chinese
7 Black
8 Filipino
9 Arab
10 Latin American
11 Southeast Asian (e.g., Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian, Thai)
12 West Asian (e.g., Iranian, Afghan)
13 Korean
14 Japanese
15 None of the above — specify:
16 Unable to self-identify
17 Refusal to self-identify
Summary of the Feedback Regarding Recommendation 2

A key consideration in the collection of data on Indigenous and racialized identity is what information should be collected. Most respondents did not provide explicit lists of identity categories. Among respondents who provided explicit feedback on the identity categories, several suggested that they should be based on Statistics Canada's standardized categoriesFootnote 6. Given that consistent and comparable data was often cited as a fundamental issue, this approach provides a foundation for common categories across both Statistics Canada surveys and products and across most of the Canadian criminal justice system data. For example, these categories are used in the Homicide Survey and the Canadian Correctional Services Survey. Several respondents also suggested using the list found in the Ontario Data Standards for the Identification and Monitoring of Systemic Racism (2021) which regulates the collection of race-based data in that province. As such, Statistics Canada will map the Ontario categories to the proposed UCR categories to ensure consistency in the data and provide police services in Ontario the ability to meet their jurisdictional obligation regarding reporting standards.

Recommendation 3

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police work together with Statistics Canada and other parties of interest to establish national collection standards and guidelines that will integrate with police procedures, processes, and workflow.

  1. These national collection standards and guidelines must include a standardized explanation of purpose to assist police officers in clearly explaining the motives behind this data collection to victims and accused persons.
  2. These national collection standards and guidelines must detail the manner in which police officers need to approach the collection of the data when responding to a criminal incident, including how and when to collect officer perception data as well as when and how to ask victims and accused persons for information about their Indigenous or racialized identity.
    1. In collaboration with parties of interest, work should be done to address the specific concerns of First Nations Police Services, including the potential respondent burden of collecting identity information in predominantly Indigenous communities and the lack of records management technology to be able to collect this information. Similar concerns may be experienced by other police services and work should be done to address them as well.
  3. These national reporting collection and guidelines must detail when it is inappropriate, impractical or impossible to collect data on the Indigenous and racialized identity of accused persons and victims through the "officer perception" method, the "self-identification" method, or both.
Summary of the Feedback Regarding Recommendation 3

Procedures for collecting this information should be developed to reflect the various scenarios in which officers are likely to encounter when asking these questions. Nevertheless, any approach should be standardized to ensure consistency across all police services. It should, among other things, include a standardized explanation of purpose so that police officers can clearly explain the motives behind this data collection to victims and accused persons. It is also clear from the feedback received that there are situations in which it might be inappropriate, impractical or impossible to collect data on the Indigenous and racialized identity of accused persons and victims. The approach needs to include specific collection standards and guidelines to account for these situations.

Recommendation 4

Any training delivered by Statistics Canada or the police community should emphasize the importance of the data collection initiative and the benefits for the Canadian population, policy-makers, and the police.

  1. Training should be developed and/or delivered in collaboration with members from diverse Indigenous and racialized communities so that their perspectives and expertise can be central in the development of training on the collection of data on the Indigenous and racialized identity of accused persons and victims of crime.
  2. A subcommittee consisting of Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police members should be formed in order to identify operational needs across all jurisdictions and to develop training standards and guidelines.
Summary of the Feedback Regarding Recommendation 4

Several respondents highlighted that the training should provide information on when data should be collected, what data should be collected, how they should collect it and why it is being collected. There was an emphasis on the importance of clearly explaining the purpose of this data collection to help facilitate collection by police officers. When developing the training, respondents also highlighted the importance for the content and delivery to be informed by the perspectives of Indigenous and racialized communities, thus ensuring that the training is culturally appropriate and that the initiative is a collective endeavour. Regarding training components relating to the experiences of First Nations people, Inuit, and Métis, respondents suggested drawing on the expertise of Indigenous Elders and prioritizing Indigenous-led training models.

Recommendation 5

The analysis and use of information on the Indigenous and racialized identity of accused persons and victims of crimes be done in a manner that reflects the realities experienced by Indigenous and racialized communities through the inclusion of context to all its publications and related dissemination products.

  1. That guidelines be developed to ensure that any data collected, analyzed, and published is conducted in a manner that reflects the realities experienced by Indigenous and racialized communities.
Summary of the Feedback Regarding Recommendation 5

Respondents were asked to provide advice on the analysis and use of data on the Indigenous or racialized identity of accused persons and victims of criminal incidents. They highlighted the importance of leveraging perspectives of Indigenous and racialized communities in order to ensure that the data that is analyzed and used provides a comprehensive picture of their experiences.

Recommendation 6

To ensure consistency, the standards developed in the context of this initiative should be considered for future data collection within justice and community safety sectors.

Summary of the Feedback Regarding Recommendation 6

Respondents were also asked whether there are other data gaps they would like to raise regarding information on the Indigenous and racialized identity of people involved with the criminal justice system. Several respondents suggested that disaggregated data on Indigenous and racialized identity be collected for all police incidents, even those that do not result in a crime. These incidents include use-of-force, traffic stops, wellness checks, missing persons, mental health-related police encounters and unwanted person calls. If collective agreement is gained on the standards developed in this initiative from diverse perspectives, including community organizations, academics, police services, the public and other parties of interest at the national, provincial/territorial, municipal, and local government level, the adopted standards should be considered for future data collection.

2.2 Reassurances

Respondents raised several other important considerations in relation with this data collection initiative. The next section highlights these considerations and corresponding reassurances.

2.2.1 Privacy

Several respondents emphasized the overall importance of privacy and confidentiality as it is related to data collection. There were also questions regarding the privacy aspects of using record linkage as a potential supplementary method to gathering information on the Indigenous and racialized identity of all accused persons and victims of criminal incidents. Statistics Canada has the obligation to keep administrative data private, secure, and confidential. The confidentiality of data is governed by the Statistics Act, Privacy Act, and Access to Information Act, and by departmental policies and directives. Strict measures are in place to ensure the protection of information at all times. All information collected is anonymized and it is never possible to connect data that is made public to a person or to their household. Statistics Canada uses state-of-the-art tools, software and processes that prevent disclosure and ensure the confidentiality and privacy of individual data. Statistics Canada's Trust Centre along with Statistics Canada's video Joe Anonymous outlines further information on how Statistics Canada protects privacy and safeguards confidentiality of the data.

2.2.2 Data Quality and Transparency

Respondents suggested that the data needs to be presented as soundly and completely as possible. Incomplete data would jeopardize the credibility of the intended objectives of this data collection initiative, which is reportedly to inform positive changes. In fact, it could lead to further prejudice towards Indigenous and racialized communities by providing an incomplete account of their realities and experiences.

Additionally, respondents also suggested that the data should be presented in a way that is accessible and easily understood by the public. This includes detailing what information is being collected and how that is being used, how the data was collected, who is permitted to use the data, and how the data is analyzed.  Relatedly, some respondents were also concerned about the need for transparency when using record linkage.

Statistics Canada follows data quality standards and ensures users have the information required to interpret statistical information. Statistics Canada is responsible for informing users the quality and accuracy of the data, methodological approaches used in collecting the data, and the purpose for collecting the data. Statistics Canada publishes all data acquired through record linkage on the website. These policies and procedures will apply to any new data collected on the Indigenous and racialized identity of accused persons and victims of crimes. Statistics Canada's Policy on Informing Users of Data Quality and Methodology and provisions for Transparency and accountability provides further detail on data quality and transparency.

2.2.3 Analysis and Use of Data

Respondents emphasized the importance of engaging Indigenous and racialized communities throughout the analysis process. Statistics Canada works actively with members from diverse Indigenous and racialized communities when analyzing and using information on the identity of population groups, and will continue to do so with any new data collection on accused persons and victims of crime. This will ensure that community perspectives can be leveraged throughout the process of collecting the information as well as through the analysis and public release of data products.

Additionally, respondents highlighted a need for data and analysis on other intersecting factors that would expand the understanding of experiences with the police either as an accused person or as a victim, and add context to the findings. This could include other identity information such as gender, disability status, and other socio-demographic information. Through the Disaggregated Data Action Plan, Statistics Canada has committed to disaggregation of data, including applying a lens of intersectionality where possible.

2.3. Guiding Principles

The following section draws on respondents' feedback and insights regarding the objectives, values, and standards which should guide the implementation of this collection of information on Indigenous and racialized identity of accused persons and victims of crime. These guiding principles are aimed at assisting Statistics Canada, the CACP, members of the policing community, and anyone else working on this data collection to ensure  that their decision-making and practices are in line with the underlying goal of the initiative.

  1. The collection of disaggregated information on the Indigenous and racialized identity of accused persons and victims of crime is intended to support positive changes and outcomes for people living in Canada. It seeks to provide insights into issues of social inequities, discrimination, and systemic racism within the Canadian criminal justice system broadly and the police specifically. It also seeks to provide essential information to inform policies, programs, and legislation that better serve the needs of Indigenous and racialized communities.
  2. The collection of disaggregated information on the Indigenous and racialized identity of accused persons and victims of crime is intended for research and statistical purposes. It is not to be used to single out Indigenous and racialized individuals for policing and enforcement purposes. It also is not intended for the oversight or evaluation of individual police officers. Under the Statistics Act, data held by Statistics Canada can only be used for research and statistical purposes.
  3. While Statistics Canada and police services are responsible for collecting the information, Indigenous and racialized communities are integral partners in this data collection initiative. Accordingly, centering community voices and lived experiences through engagement in decision-making is essential.
  4. A core principle of this data collection initiative is transparency in all decision-making. The public needs be able to easily access information regarding data collection, data management and data dissemination.
  5. All decision-making in relation to this data collection initiative needs to assess the potential for exacerbating problems of social inequities, discrimination, and systemic racism as well as the potential for further stigmatization or marginalization of communities. Appropriate measures and safeguards against those risks should always be considered before enacting any new policies, procedures, or practices.
  6. All decision-making in relation to this data collection initiative will be implemented in accordance with privacy frameworks. Appropriate measures and safeguards will accompany the enactment of any new policies, procedures, or practices to ensure the confidentiality of the data collected.
  7. Cultural safety and awareness should be a core principle in all decision-making.

Part 3: Next Steps

3.1. Overview of Next Steps and Timelines

Implementing a data collection initiative of this magnitude requires considerable efforts and the coordination with several parties of interest, including Statistics Canada, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, individual police services, and records management system providers. Further engagement will also be needed with Indigenous and racialized communities to ensure that their voices and lived experiences are appropriately incorporated in all decision-making. Accordingly, the enactment of the recommendations detailed above will occur in several steps. The following is a summary of the key milestones and deliverables which will lead to the implementation of this data collection initiative.

First, Statistics Canada will seek feedback on the recommendations from diverse perspectives, including community organizations, academics, police services, the public and other parties of interest at the national, provincial/territorial, municipal, and local government level. Second, Statistics Canada will proceed with making technical changes to the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey so that it can begin capturing police-reported data on the Indigenous and racialized identity of accused persons and victims of criminal incidents. Third, Statistics Canada will work in collaboration with records management systems providers to implement necessary changes which will allow police officers to collect the information when responding to criminal incidents. Fourth, Statistics Canada will work in collaboration with the Canadian Associations of Chiefs of Police and other parties of interest to develop reporting standards and guidelines for police services regarding the collection of the information. Next, it will engage with Indigenous and racialized communities, subject-matter experts, and the police community to develop training regarding the collection of this data. Finally, training will be delivered to police services across Canada before the collection of information on the Indigenous and racialized identity of accused persons and victims of crime can begin.

Accordingly, the UCR Survey is expected to be system-ready to accept data from police at the beginning of 2024. It should be noted that while the UCR Survey may be ready to accept data from police services on the Indigenous and racialized identity of accused persons and victims of crime, it does not mean that the data will be available to collect. Indeed, Statistics Canada expects a gradual roll out of the new data collection across police services based on several factors including, among others, the timeliness of police system updates and deployment, budgetary considerations, the implementation of new policies within police services, and the timeliness of training delivery.

Footnotes

Footnote 1

While this report contains the word "accused," the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey uses the term "charged/suspect – chargeable (CSC)" when referring to a person who has been identified as an accused person and against whom a charge may be laid in connection with that incident.

Return to footnote 1 referrer

Footnote 2

The concept of "race" emerges from social processes by which individuals are differentiated based on varied characteristics generally leading to the marginalization of certain groups (Ontario Human Rights Commission, 2005). It follows that racialization refers to "the process by which societies construct races as real, different and unequal in ways that matters to economic, political and social life" (Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System, 1995, pp. 40-41). The terms "racialized people" or "racialized identity" are therefore used broadly in this document in reference to people who are not Indigenous or white. While First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples also experience racialization, it is important to consider their unique historical, political, and legal context and their unique experiences. It is also essential to note that Indigenous peoples may not define themselves as racialized groups, but instead as peoples or nations (Ontario Human Rights Commission, 2018). It follows that we need to consider Indigenous peoples separately from other racialized identities (Ontario Human Rights Commission, 2003, 2018).

Return to footnote 2 referrer

Footnote 3

Note that not all jurisdictions in Canada recognize the existence of systemic racism in policing or the criminal justice system broadly.

Return to footnote 3 referrer

Footnote 4

Approximately one in five police calls for service result in a recorded criminal violation. Police call for services include all instances resulting in a police response for both criminal and non-criminal events. For example, they include "motor vehicle accidents and traffic matters, incidents of domestic violence, reports of suspicious individuals or circumstances, disturbance or disorderly conduct, attempted suicide, and calls related to intoxicated persons" (Mazowita & Rotenberg, 2019, p. 9).

Return to footnote 4 referrer

Footnote 5

The age of 12 was selected in accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act, which outlines that "a person who is or, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, appears to be less than twelve years old" is considered a child (Youth Criminal Justice Act, 2002, p. 2).

Return to footnote 5 referrer

Footnote 6

Statistics Canada is currently reviewing the standard. At the end of this process, if the categories are changed, categories for the collection and dissemination of population groups for accused persons and victims of crimes through the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey will be modified according to the changes made to Statistics Canada's standardized categories.

Return to footnote 6 referrer

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Annex A: UCR, Engagement Methodology and Detailed Engagement Results

The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey

Since 1962, Statistics Canada collects information on all criminal incidents reported by Canadian police services through its annual Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey in order to monitor the nature and extent of police-reported crime in Canada. This survey is an administrative database of incidents, victims and accused persons records extracted from police services records management systems. Nearly all police services in Canada report to the UCR leading to a coverage of almost all police-reported criminal incidents. The survey includes more than a hundred data elements. For instance, it contains information about the nature of the crimes committed (i.e., criminal violations), the location of the incidents, whether incidents involved weapons and the type of weapon used. It also gathers information on victims and accused persons, including their gender, age, relationship status as well as their name and date of birth.

Municipal and provincial/territorial governments and police use these data to aid decisions about the distribution of police resources, the elaboration of standards and programs, and for comparisons with other departments and provinces. In the case of the federal government, it provides information for policy and legislative development, evaluation of new legislative initiatives and international comparisons. Furthermore, media, academics, researchers, non-government organizations and the public use these data to examine questions related to crime.

It should be noted that all personal identifiers such as name and date of birth are securely protected and anonymized. It is never possible to connect data that is made public to a person or to their household. Indeed, Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from publishing any statistics which would divulge identifiable information about individuals without their written consent. Furthermore, the confidentiality provisions of the Statistics Act are not affected by either the Access to Information Act or any other legislation. Accordingly, all information reported to the UCR Survey are treated in confidence, used for statistical purposes, and published in aggregate form only.

Engagement Strategy

The engagement was conducted through two primary approaches. First, an engagement document was created. This document included background information on this data collection initiative, a questionnaire to complete and space for respondents to provide any further information that they thought should be considered regarding this project. A concise version of the engagement document was also created to provide a more accessible document to respondents. Second, a series of virtual roundtables were held with various respondents as a way of stimulating conversations about this initiative to complement the responses received through the written submissions. Additionally, formal and informal meetings were also held with various partners and other parties of interest about the initiative and the resulting feedback was also compiled to complement the responses received to the engagement.

Respondent Selection

People invited to take part in the engagement were identified through an open-ended and multifaceted process. This process included connecting with organizations with whom Statistics Canada has an established relationship, conducting web searches to identify organizations serving or representing Indigenous and racialized communities, and asking partners to provide contact information for people and organizations they believed should be included in the engagement. The engagement document sent to the identified potential participants also asked for them to recommend other people and organizations they believed should be included in the engagement.

A social media campaign was also circulated on Statistics Canada's social media platforms. This campaign called on members of the public who were interested in participating in the engagement process to contact Statistics Canada. Finally, police services across Canada as well as numerous federal, provincial/territorial, and local partners were invited to participate. Overall, more than 500 potential participants were contacted directly by Statistics Canada. However, the outreach was most likely wider as the engagement document was shared by invited participants.

The selection of participants for the virtual roundtables was based on a number of criteria including the number of roundtable events, the size of roundtable events, regional and local representativeness, the diversity of Indigenous and racialized identities represented, language representativeness, and the group types (e.g., community organizations, police, and academics).

Analytical Strategy

The analysis consisted of compiling the various feedback received through written submission, virtual roundtables, and the various meetings held with partners and other parties of interest. A content analysis was conducted in order to extract the various themes and topics emerging from the responses to the engagement. Subsequently, these themes and topics were joined through a common narrative aimed at comparing and contrasting the converging and diverging views of respondents about this initiative.

Sample

The present engagement report is based primarily on the feedback from 93 respondents heard through written submissions and the virtual roundtables originating from several regions and sectors, including community organizations, the policing community, and academics. While some requests to participate from the public were received, none of the individuals submitted a response to the engagement. Below is a regional and sector breakdown of the almost one hundred respondents:

Table 1: Regional Breakdown of Respondents
Region Number of Respondents
National 23
Atlantic 8
Québec 7
Ontario 27
Alberta 17
Manitoba 2
Saskatchewan 1
British Columbia 7
Territories 1
Total 93
Table 2: Sector Breakdown of Respondents
Sector Number of Respondents
Community Organizations/Associations 18
Academics 8
Indigenous representative bodies 3
Police services 40
Federal, provincial, municipal and working groups 17
Others (e.g., police associations, human rights offices) 7
Total 93

Detailed Engagement Results

Should Statistics Canada Collect This Information

Respondents were asked whether Indigenous and racialized identity of accused persons and victims of criminal incidents information should be collected by police services and Statistics Canada through the UCR Survey. Their positions and reasoning are provided below:

Positions and Justifications
  • In total, 77 of the 93 respondents indicated support for this initiative (83%).
  • These respondents come from all sectors canvassed, including community organizations, academics, police services, and governmental agencies at the national, provincial/territorial, municipal, and local level.
  • About half of the remaining respondents stated being against collecting this information. These respondents come from the policing community (i.e., police services and police associations).
  • The rest of the respondents did not provide any position on the matter.

Respondents' reasoning for supporting the collection of data on the Indigenous and racialized identity of all accused persons and victims of criminal incidents are listed below:

  • This information is essential for identifying and addressing inequities, discrimination, as well as overt and systemic racism within policing.
  • These data would support the development of policies, procedures, legislation, community resources and programs, and service delivery.
  • This initiative could help support the development of police practices and training that would be better attuned to the needs of communities.
  • This initiative could generate more awareness among police officers in terms of the potential pitfalls of their practices and their unconscious biases.
  • This information could generate organizational accountability and transparency, and for supporting changes to police culture.
  • This information could provide opportunities for the police to build trust and create safer communities for all residents.

Arguments for opposing this initiative centered on the three following issues:

  1. Respondents contend that there are no operational or investigative needs to collect information on the Indigenous and racialized identity of accused persons and victims of criminal incidents. Instead, the focus should be on the factors that are known to increase the likelihood of someone committing a crime or becoming victim to a crime, including unemployment, education, housing, and social inequities.
  2. Respondents raised concerns about requiring police officers to inquire about the Indigenous or racialized identity of accused persons and victims as it could negatively impact public perceptions and trust toward the police as well as people's cooperation and compliance during police encounters. Respondents highlighted that it could reinforce the systemic oppression faced by Indigenous and racialized communities.
  3. Respondents mentioned that police officers may not be the ideal mechanism through which this information should be collected as there are too many operational variables to address when collecting this data. As a result, it may not be possible to attain an appropriate level of data quality because police officers may not be able to collect consistent and accurate information. Accordingly, respondents propose that it may be more appropriate to rely on criminal courts and correctional institutions to collect this information or that provincial governments should mandate this information on driver licences or health card information. 
Considerations and Concerns

While there was broad support for this initiative, respondents nevertheless raised some issues for considerations listed below:

  • Respondents highlighted the need to ensure the privacy of all accused persons and victims of crime, the transparency of the process by which this data is collected, and the confidentiality of the data.
    • They highlighted that both communities and police officers need to know the reasoning behind the data collection, how the data will be used, and the purpose and value of collecting this data.
  • Respondents emphasized the need to be careful about the manner in which this data is collected so as not to further exacerbate problems of social inequities, discrimination, and systemic racism.
    • They highlighted that seeking people's consent should be of the upmost importance.
    • Respondents mentioned that the role of police officers being in the position of authority should be considered when seeking this information.
    • They emphasized that victims and accused persons should not feel coerced in providing information about their Indigenous or racialized identity.
    • They mentioned that safeguards are needed to ensure that this initiative does not further stigmatize or marginalize communities.
  • Respondents also highlighted the need for a national strategy to ensure a consistent methodology.
    • This approach is crucial to obtain useful, accurate and comparable data across jurisdictions. Being consistent may also be a useful tool in allaying some of the concerns surrounding the stigmatization and targeting of Indigenous and racialized communities.
  • Several respondents raised concerns about the misuse and misinterpretation of data. They stated that this data alone should not and cannot be used to make broad inferences about issues without the appropriate context, whether that be about Indigenous and racialized communities or about the work of the police in those communities.
  • Respondents also mentioned that systemic issues cannot be addressed solely based on the collection of data on the Indigenous and racialized identity of accused persons and victims of criminal incidents.
    • These respondents said that the collection should be expanded to all police interactions, but also to all other social institutions within Canadian society.
Limits and Exceptions

Respondents were asked whether there are instances when police services and Statistics Canada should not collect this information through the UCR Survey. Majority of respondents indicated specific circumstances when they think it would be inappropriate to collect this information. The limits and expectations highlighted by respondents are listed below:

  • Respondents raised concerns about the legality and appropriateness of collecting this information when incidents involve youths.
  • Victims and accused persons should be able to refuse to provide information about identity.
  • Police officers should not collect third-party information such as when victims are describing an accused person or the information is obtained through witness reports. Accordingly, the information should be either relayed by the individuals themselves or collected through officer perception.
  • In the situation where victims and accused persons are expected to self-identify, respondents indicated several situations where it might not be possible to obtain the information, including when the individual is experiencing mental health issues, when they are intoxicated or when there is a language barrier and thereby incapable of providing the information.
  • It might not be appropriate to request the information when the person involved experienced a traumatic event or when asking them to self-identify could lead to additional trauma.
  • It might not be appropriate or possible to collect this information during volatile encounters or when asking accused persons and victims to self-identify could escalate the volatility of the interaction.
  • It might not be appropriate to request this information when doing so could erode the trust between an officer and the individual.

First Nations police respondents raised specific concerns about the relevance for their police officers to collect this information as well as their ability to do so. They indicated that the large majority of people living in their communities are Indigenous. Accordingly, it might be unnecessary and potentially a needless burden for them to be expected to collect this information. Furthermore, it was highlighted that many First Nations police services may lack the proper records management technology to be able to collect this information.

How Should Statistics Canada Collect This Information

A key consideration in the collection of data by police on Indigenous and racialized identity is how the information should be collected as such sensitive information requires a substantiated, transparent, and standardized data collection strategy. Generally, there are three primary methods of collecting this information: officer perception (i.e., no information is volunteered by the accused person or victim), self-identification (i.e., the accused person or victim volunteers the information), or a combination of the two methods. These methods have distinct implications and the resulting data may not be appropriate for all purposes.

  1. The "officer perception" approach entails that the Indigenous or racialized identities of the people involved in a criminal incident (i.e., accused persons and victims) are recorded based on a police officer's subjective assessment of these individuals. This approach provides several benefits. For instance, the collection does not depend on accused persons and victims volunteering the information, which could lead to a higher response rate. This method provides an opportunity for identifying biases and prejudices within officers' decision-making (Toronto Police Service, 2020).
  2. The "self-identification" approach entails that the information on Indigenous or racialized identities of the people involved in a criminal incident is volunteered by accused persons and victims. Although there may be a reluctance by accused persons and victims to share this information or by police officers to ask questions about this sensitive topic, it is argued to serve as a more respectful and less stigmatizing collection method (Toronto Police Service, 2020), while also allowing for further disaggregation of data.
  3. The "combination" approach draws on both methods detailed above. It may serve as a compromise given the inherent limitations of the aforementioned methods, while also providing flexibility given that these different approaches may not be appropriate for all purposes. Nevertheless, evidence from jurisdictions who adopted the "combination" approach suggests that there are challenges in reconciling these collection methods. For instance, there are frequent disparities regarding the identity of given individuals based on officer perception data and self-identification data. It follows that this divergence impacts the conclusions emerging from the data as it relates to various issues (City of London Police, 2020).

Accordingly, in light of this information, respondents were asked about their preferred method for collecting data on the Indigenous and racialized identity of all accused persons and victims of criminal incidents by police and Statistics Canada through the UCR.

Primary Data Collection Method

First, respondents were asked about their preferred data collection method in the context of in-person interactions between the police and the people involved in a criminal incident. They were also asked whether the data collection should be different based on whether the person is an accused person or a victim.

  • Respondents indicated equally preferring the "combination" approach (i.e., 34 of the 93 respondents) or the "self-identification" approach (i.e., 34 of the 93 respondents) for accused persons.
  • In terms of victims, respondents preferred the "self-identification" method (i.e., 37 of the 93 respondents) more by a small margin compared to the "combination" method (i.e., 34 of the 93 respondents).

On one end, the "self-identification" method provides the most accurate data. Respondents highlight the fact that people involved in criminal incidents have the right to have their identity accurately reflected in the data. It can help empower communities by providing data representing the needs of communities and it can help support the development of policies, programs and services better suited to their realities.

On the other end, the "officer perception" method is important because perceptions could influence an officer's decision-making in an interaction and lead to disparities in outcomes. Accordingly, collecting the data through officers' perceptions would be an invaluable tool in fully understanding systemic racism and other barriers so that they can be addressed. Furthermore, respondents highlighted that the "self-identification" method is not always practical. Where an accused person or a victim is reluctant or refuses to self-identify, officer perceptions will provide a means to fill the gap. A similar rationale is applied for when there might be safety concerns or when victims experience a traumatic event and asking individuals to self-identify is not appropriate. It may also be the fastest approach under time constraints. Nevertheless, respondents raised two caveats to this approach:

  1. Data gathered through self-identification and officer perception should be collected separately. They argue that mixing methods of identification could potentially add more pitfalls and restrictions on the interpretations of the results and on the recommendations emerging from the findings.
  2. Second, a large number of respondents preferring the "combination" method indicated that self-identification should be prioritized over officer perception. According to respondents, one way to do so might be to only collect officer perception when the accused person or the victim refuses to self-identify. However, others suggested that police officers should always try to collect both. As such, they indicated that officer perceptions should be collected before self-identification so as to avoid swaying the subjectivity of the officers.

It should be noted that very few respondents preferred the "officer perception" method on its own (i.e., five in the context of accused persons and three in the context of victims). According to respondents, the main problem with collecting data through this method alone comes from its inability to collect accurate data consistently matching the way accused persons and victims self-identify.

Next, respondents were asked whether they see value in collecting data on the Indigenous and racialized identity of accused persons and victims when criminal incidents come to the attention of police in other ways. For instance, when the public submits a report online, when police officers take a report over the phone, or when preparing criminal reports in any other way (e.g., as the result of a proactive investigation/surveillance). The majority of respondents indicated supporting the collection of this information across these other scenarios (i.e., 51 in the context of accused persons and 56 in the context of victims). Accordingly, respondents were asked about their preferred data collection method for each and whether the data collection should be different based on whether the person is an accused person or a victim. In majority of cases, respondents simply reiterated the same answer provided in the context of in-person interactions. Among those who preferred the "self-identification" method, the core reasoning is that self-identification will be the only appropriate method as the report-taker will not be able to see the victim. As for the accused person, any information provided online or by phone by a complainant as to an accused person's identity will be third-party information and should not be collected.

Finally, respondents were asked whether they had any additional recommendations on the best way to carry out the collection, including when during the interaction should this data be collected.

  • Most respondents suggested that self-identification information should be collected, as late in the interaction as possible. It would help to make sure that there was enough time for de-escalation and for ensuring the safety for all parties. For example, at the booking and processing stage for accused persons and upon the closure of the incident or at the end of the interaction with victims.
  • Some respondents suggested that a standard form could be developed which could be given to victims and accused persons to fill out and could become part of regular procedure. By providing a form to be filled out by individuals, it opens up the opportunity for officers to explain the reason why they are collecting the info.
  • Other respondents suggested an accessible self-reporting tool offered to all accused persons and victims as it might be a valuable alternative source of data collection, as long as it can be cross-referenced with police-provided information.
Alternate Data Collection Ideas
  • This self-identification information could be collected as part of the criminal investigation process but not by police officers. For example, one option would be to have someone else accompanying police officers to collect the information (e.g., police administration officers, social workers, and any other trusted member of the community).
  • An alternative online reporting tool could be developed through which accused persons and victims can submit information about their Indigenous or racialized identity by using their police file number. This allows individuals time to understand the information being requested from them and it considers the apprehensions that an individual may have in providing this information to the police.
  • Embedding information of a person's Indigenous or racialized identity in all government-issued identification was also suggested. Accordingly, the information could be automatically gathered during all police interactions and eliminates the need to ask for the information.

Respondents also indicated that a one-size-fits-all approach is not recommended. Accordingly, procedures for collecting this information should be developed to reflect the various scenarios in which officers are likely to encounter when asking these questions.  However, any approach should be standardized to ensure consistency across all police services. Namely, a standardized explanation of purpose should be used by police officers to clearly explain the motives behind this data collection process.

Specific to the context of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples, there were some concerns about relying on police officers to collect race-based data founded on their perceptions as it may generate a risk for racial profiling and prejudices. They argue that it is imperative that Indigenous peoples are afforded the space to self-identify. Relying on police officers' perceptions undermines the right to self-determination and contributes to undermining the safety of Indigenous individuals, families and communities.

Current Police Policies on Race-Based Data Collection

Police Services in Ontario are mandated under the Anti-Racism Act (2017) to collect this information using the "officer perception" method in the context of use-of-force incidents. These incidents frequently involve a criminal event. For police services collecting this information, the collection is often unrelated to criminal incidents (e.g., professional standards complainants, missing persons, street checks, and hiring). A few police services have embarked in a process for a more extensive race-based data collection initiative or have mentioned that they will soon begin exploring the collection of race-based data in their own jurisdiction.

The government of British Columbia (B.C.) introduced the Anti-Racism Data Act on May 2, 2022, which is a new legislation that is aimed at dismantling "systemic racism and discrimination" (Government of British Columbia, 2022b, p. 1). Relatedly, the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia issued a report on reforming the B.C. Police Act. This report highlighted the importance of a standardized collection of Indigenous and racialized identities to better understand systemic racism and improve police policies. It was recommended that the B.C. provincial government "require police services to collect and publicly report disaggregated race-based and other demographic data and conduct comprehensive reviews of and amend policies and procedures to address systemic racism in policing" (Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, 2022, p. 8).

Data Linkage

An additional option for collecting data on the Indigenous and racialized identity of accused persons and victims of criminal incidents is the use of record linkage. This internationally recognized statistical method maximizes the use of information available to answer societal and economic questions by connecting information previously scattered across disparate databases. In the current context, it would require police services to report personal identifiers of victims and accused persons to the UCR Survey for research and statistical purposes. With these personal identifiers, Statistics Canada is able to link UCR Survey records to the Census, which contains, among other things, self-reported information on the Indigenous and racialized identity of people living in Canada. It is important to note that the records are anonymized and it is never possible to connect data that is made public to a person or a household within the Statistics Canada's framework for record linkage. Record linkage could also enable the analysis of other socio-economic factors to provide context to findings and tell a more fulsome story around victimization and offending.

While this supplementary data collection method has several benefits, there are also some limitations to using record linkage highlighted below:

  • The accuracy of Census information may be impacted by response mobility, which occurs when people self-identify differently over time (O'Donnell and LaPointe, 2019).
  • People belonging to marginalized communities may not always be well represented in Census data (e.g., people experiencing homelessness) (Strobel et al., 2021).
  • Only people who receive the longer form of the census are asked questions regarding record linkage and around 20% of the people receive the long form. 

Considering this context, respondents were asked to provide their thoughts on record linkage as a way of filling gaps in police-reported crime statistics as it pertains to the Indigenous and racialized identity of victims and accused persons:

  • Half of the respondents supported the use of record linkage (47 of 93 respondents).
  • A frequent theme among responses was that this statistical tool would provide a great avenue to help address gaps in data.
  • It could also help provide relevant context to findings, and could help disentangle some of the root causes of trends in offending and victimization.

Several concerns raised were about the reliability of using record linkage to fill this particular data gap. Respondents were concerned that response mobility, the under-representation of marginalized, transient and institutionalized populations, and low response rates could prevent successful record linkage leading to missing data if used as the primary method. The policing community was particularly concerned with the potential for data quality issues in police records which could prevent record linkage.

What Information Should be collected

Respondents were asked to provide their perspective on what information should be collected as well as benefits and limitations associated with using these categories for police-reported information.

Substantive Categories

It should be noted that most respondents did not provide explicit lists of identity categories they think should be represented in the collection of data on the Indigenous and racialized identity of accused persons and victims of criminal incidents. Nevertheless, two recurring themes emerged from these comments as to what information should be collected:

  1. First, 15 of the 93 respondents indicated that the identity categories for this initiative should be based on Statistics Canada's already established category lists.
    • Some respondents suggested using the categories found on the Homicide Survey or those associated with hate crime data on the UCR Survey. Others suggested that the Census categories are the most appropriate. This would ensure consistency across national data and allow for comparisons. Furthermore, it would facilitate consistency when conducting record linkage. 
  2. Second, 12 of the 93 respondents argued that the identity categories should be based on the category list used in Ontario Data Standards for the Identification and Monitoring of Systemic Racism (2021).
    • According to several respondents, this list provides a good balance between having broad identity categories and having comprehensive categories that reflect the way in which people generally tend to think of Indigenous and racialized identities.
Considerations Regarding the Categories

Respondents highlighted that there needs to be a balance between capturing fulsome, detailed, and comprehensive information about respondents' Indigenous or racialized identity, but also having a manageable and easy-to-understand category list. On one side, too many categories may decrease the quality of the data and may increase non-responses. On the other side, identity categories that are too broad can lead to lack of useful data. Respondents mentioned that detailed and comprehensive data are required to ensure a fulsome understanding of issues, trends, patterns leading to opportunities for systemic change.

Other themes raised by respondents is a need to ensure victims and accused persons can select multiple Indigenous and/or racialized identities. This will ensure that the data reflects the realities of the Canadian population and ultimately will lead to more accurate information. Respondents also mention that the category list needs to avoid mixing Indigenous and racialized identities with ethno-cultural identities. Operationally, the list should be implemented so as to avoid default categories to ensure that efforts are made to capture people's Indigenous or racialized identity.

Considerations for the Implementation

Police respondents were also specifically asked about issues, concerns, and considerations in implementing of common categories across police services highlighted below:

  • There will be a need to train police officers to make sure they understand the category definitions and how to apply them.
  • Operationally, records management systems (RMS) and other tools will have to be updated to integrate the chosen category list and ensure the interoperability of systems.
  • Budgets will also have to be allocated to support the implementation.
  • Thoughts should also be given to ensure that the categories selected for the UCR Survey can be reconciled with the categories already in use by police services.

How Should Statistics Canada Use the Data

Respondents were asked to provide feedback on how disaggregated police-reported data on the Indigenous and racialized identity of accused persons and victims of criminal incidents would best serve the needs of communities, decision makers, the police and all other party of interest.

Addressing Data Needs

Approximately half of respondents suggest that collecting information on the Indigenous and racialized identity of accused persons and victims of criminal incidents would support progress toward bias-free policing in Canada. Some examples highlighted by respondents are listed below:

  • The availability of robust national race-based data would remove speculations about police interactions with the community in the context of criminal incidents.
  • This would allow both the public and the policing community to learn from these experiences, improve police practises, policies, and programs, and promote police accountability to the public.
  • The data collected could also be used as a tool to help build and reinforce police-community relations by identifying, acknowledging and being accountable to the perceived presence of racial biases, discrimination, and inequities in police interactions.
  • This data could help inform all justice-related policies, programs, and law reform proposals, including those related to crime prevention and alternative resolution mechanisms.
  • Data strategy that allows for the quantification of systemic racism and socio-economic inequities would be helpful in driving policy decisions, legislation, and funding of programs aimed at addressing these fundamental problems.
  • This data will allow for an application of intersectional lens to understand the disparate treatment of certain groups when it comes to their involvement with the criminal justice system broadly, and the police specifically.
    • For instance, how race-based data may be combined with data on people's gender, age, mental health status, and other social identities to understand social mechanisms leading to potentially different outcomes for unique groups.
  • Collecting this information would allow police services and policy-makers to be informed, to recognize trends, and to develop training and procedures to best equip police officers to do their jobs safely and effectively.
    • It would provide each police service with a snapshot of their community's current situation and needs. Allowing police services to see who may be over-represented in their interaction with the police can help provide culturally relevant services to the community.
    • It can also inform training to ensure officers are culturally knowledgeable when dealing with certain members of their community.

Respondents suggest that the value of collecting disaggregated race-based data should not only be to highlight the inequities that exist throughout Canada, but more importantly, to establish methods of redressing and developing solutions that will protect the safety and basic rights of Indigenous peoples. They also suggested that the data should be used to empower Indigenous communities and to do so, the data standards developed should be driven by communities.

Analysis and Use of Data

Next, respondents were asked whether they had any advice on the analysis and use of this data on the Indigenous or racialized identity of accused persons and victims of criminal incidents by Statistics Canada. Their responses are highlighted below:

  • One of the most frequent themes was the need to seek meaningful input from communities and other parties of interest to inform the interpretation of the results.
  • Respondents were concerned that the disseminated information will be used to blame Indigenous and racialized communities or characterize them as deficient or criminal in nature.
    • As such, context should always accompany the publication and dissemination of race-based information to mitigate any unintended or erroneous attributions to the data and to avoid any unintended misrepresentations of realities experienced by Indigenous and racialized individuals and communities.
    • One way is to mobilize an intersectional approach which would help to contextualize and provide a more nuanced understanding of the race-based data. Specific to the context of Indigenous peoples, respondents suggest that it is essential to provide the historical context which continues to have an impact on their current experiences.
  • Respondents emphasized that the data needs to be presented as transparently and as completely as possible.
    • Accordingly, data should be made openly available because selective data would jeopardize the credibility of the intended objectives of this initiative, which is reportedly to inform positive changes. In fact, it could even harm Indigenous and racialized communities by providing an incomplete account of their realities and experiences.
    • A transparent approach includes a clear explanation of the standards and methodology used to collect, analyze, interpret, and disseminate the data.
  • The data should be presented in a way that is easily understood by the public and which safeguards the misuse of the data.
    • Accessibility could be ensured by translating publications into multiple languages, including Indigenous languages.
  • If there are allegations that the data is misused, a proper investigation should be launched to identify how could things be done differently and what lessons can be learned.

While most respondents suggested an open and comprehensive publication of the data, a few respondents discussed various pitfalls and issues that are included below:

  • Disseminating this information publicly could stigmatize some communities.
  • While ensuring an open access to the data has benefits, they contend that it might also mean that there is less control over what narrative or interpretation is applied to the data.
  • It could lead to the data being used to reinforce or justify biases in policing or it could also be misused as a way of rationalizing public stereotypes about certain groups being more criminal.
  • Respondents foresee that, notwithstanding everyone's best efforts, collecting this data and disseminating it can lead to misinterpretation by readers given known existing social biases.
Community Involvement

Respondents were asked specifically how they saw communities being involved in the use and analysis of the data. Overwhelmingly, respondents suggested that the communities should have a direct involvement. Specifically, they highlighted that Statistics Canada should work on building long-term relationships with members from diverse Indigenous and racialized communities to develop strategic and funded partnerships. These relationships and partnerships should be developed so that Statistics Canada becomes accountable to communities, including by having to rationalize their decision-making, and continually be available to heed communities' various priorities, concerns, needs, and interests in collection, management, use and analysis of information. Ultimately, this approach will help in building trust at a local level. Trust is important to ensure that the community is involved in building the collection strategy and ensuring that data is used and analyzed with care and caution.

Other Data Gaps

Respondents were also asked whether there are other data gaps they would like to raise regarding police-reported information on racialized and Indigenous identity in Canada. These data gaps are included below:

  • Disaggregated race-based data should be collected for all police incidents, even those that do not result in a crime.
    • These incidents include traffic stops, wellness checks, missing persons, mental health-related police encounters and unwanted person calls.
    • Among the different types of police interactions, respondents were particularly interested in the collection of information on police use-of-force incidents. Indeed, respondents suggested that there is a need to develop a standardized method for recording use of force by Canadian police services, which research shows is disproportionally experienced by Indigenous and racialized individuals.
  • There is a need for data on other social factors known to impact the likelihood of experiencing involvement with the police either as an accused person or as a victim.
    • These factors include incident location, people's mental health status and information about their substance use as well as sociodemographic variables such as sex, gender, age, sexual orientation, and religion. Respondents also suggested that it would be useful to have data on the characteristics of the police officers such as sociodemographic information.
  • There was some interest in thematic analyses and publications intersecting disaggregated race-based data with various criminal justice topics, including conviction rates, recidivism rate, gang-related homicides, over- and under-policing, charges laid and withdrawn, incident clearance status, detention and release, offence types, as well as founded and unfounded incidents.

Privacy Considerations

As privacy is a substantial factor to consider regarding Indigenous and racialized identity data, respondents were asked if they have any concerns regarding privacy as it relates to these data being collected by police and/or being reported to Statistics Canada. Several respondents expressed concerns related to privacy highlighting the importance of enforcing strong de-identification procedures before releasing and reporting data. In ensuring that data is disaggregated, respondents suggested that there should be standards in place to guarantee that the various demographic measures collected, shared and published are not so detailed as to inadvertently single out individuals.

Some respondents emphasized the need for this data to be collected, stored and handled carefully. Respondents highlighted that the data collection framework should include safeguards to ensure informed consent for the data being collected along with a clear and accessible explanation of how personal information is being stored and used. Relatedly, respondents expressed concerns in relation to privacy regarding data linkages and the potential requirement to modify informed consent for census data. Some respondents suggested that providing training that sets clears expectations for the proper use and handling of these data as well as possible repercussions for misuse can mitigate any privacy concerns. Additionally, they also suggested incorporating data encryption and creating a data retention schedule.

Some respondents expressed concerns regarding the privacy of youth. Respondents highlighted that there is a need to be particular about privacy considerations with respect to youth records and data. As such, the information collected, transmitted, and used needs to be in conformity with the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA).

Although a number of respondents had concerns related to privacy, there were many respondents who expressed their confidence in Statistics Canada and the already established safeguards and practices to protect privacy. They also expressed their confidence in police records management systems to protect this sensitive data as these systems face some of the most scrutinized security regimes available to technology. Respondents were also certain that police services and the CACP overall will follow privacy regulations and protocols as police already collect personal data and data of a sensitive nature.

Implementation Considerations

Statistics Canada sought insights on ways to implement the collection by asking for recommendations on how best to involve communities in the process of implementing data collection, how police and Statistics Canada can build and maintain trust with communities and the public, and how best to communicate this data collection to the public. Respondents were also asked to provide recommendations on how to best provide training to police officers as it relates to collecting data on the Indigenous and racialized identity of victims and accused persons along with essential topics or information that should be covered in this training.

How to Best Involve Communities

Respondents were asked for feedback on the best ways to involve communities during the implementation stage. Their responses are highlighted below:

  • More than half of the respondents suggested that building regular opportunities for supported involvement such as sustained engagement is the best practice for involving communities and receiving meaningful input.
    • Some examples include local public consultations and working groups.
    • This also includes consultation with community members and subject-matter experts throughout the implementation process.
  • As involvement of Indigenous and racialized people in the implementation of data collection may differ depending on the community, it is important to engage representative and local organizations, who are well equipped in engaging membership for the community they serve.
    • This can include working with local organizations to motivate and highlight the benefits, both in the short-term and the long-term for the community they serve.
  • Following implementation, an ongoing analysis should be undertaken at regular intervals to ensure the initiative is meeting its intended objectives and not causing harm to communities or police-public relations.
Building and Maintaining Trust with Communities and the Public

Next, respondents were asked for recommendations on how to build and maintain trust with communities and the public. These recommendations are highlighted below:

  • Respondents stressed the importance of monitoring progress, addressing challenges openly, and being transparent.
  • Acknowledging shortcomings and issues in both data and police responses were recognized as important steps in building and maintaining trust.
  • Respondents highlighted that police acknowledgement of past mistakes and harms could serve as an important step toward reconciliation with various communities that have had negative experiences with the police.
  • Respondents expressed that building and maintaining trust with Indigenous communities must also be centred on the principle of relationship-based practice that encompasses transparency, accountability, and reciprocity.
  • Respondents suggested that creating a performance measurement framework to assess how police services are meeting expectations, data quality and limitations can help demonstrate responsiveness and accountability.
  • Centring community voices and lived experiences by fostering continued engagement throughout the implementation were deemed as vital in building and maintaining trust.
  • Respondents highlighted the need to prioritize concerns and wishes of Indigenous and racialized communities over those of researchers and government agencies.
  • Respondents highlighted the importance having a mutual understanding between the police, Statistics Canada and Indigenous and racialized communities and the overall public on the kind of information that can be extracted from this data, the conclusions that can be made and the corresponding actions that decision makers will take in order to maximize the social benefits with regards to the information being presented.
  • Being clear about the limitations of this approach, given the relatively small proportion of incidents that are criminal, was deemed as vital by the respondents.
  • As this initiative does not account for non-criminal incidents, respondents stressed the importance of ensuring that agencies using the data and the public in general are clear on this limitation.
How to Best Communicate this Data Collection

Respondents were asked to provide feedback on how to best communicate this initiative within communities and to the public in general. Their feedback is included below:

  • Respondents recommended involving stakeholder organizations and community agencies to develop accessible communications in different formats and languages and to deliver the message through media representing Indigenous and racialized groups to reach a broad and diverse audience.
  • Respondents suggested using modern communication tools, such as Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media to reach a wider and more diverse audience.
    • Other examples of communication forms included information sessions, town halls, and media releases.
    • Broadcasting short and informative advertisements on TV/radio similar to Census data advertisements was recommended as well. 
  • Respondents also suggested publishing information on Statistics Canada's website, which can be shared by police agencies on their own websites.
  • Aside from national communication from Statistics Canada and the CACP, respondents also recommended spreading information through provincial and municipal governments.
  • Some respondents highlighted that Statistics Canada should be providing police services, provincial and municipal governments  with a communication strategy, including tools and resources, to support promotion and education of local communities.

While utilizing modern communication technologies was the most recommended solution, a few respondents also brought attention to account for those without internet and literacy. As such, alternate formats are important to be made available for accessibility purposes. These formats can include cards that police officers can hand out to provide individuals information on frequently asked questions and information pamphlets that can be placed in Friendship Centres and other types of community organizations.

How to Best Provide Training to Police Officers

Next, respondents were asked to provide recommendations on how to best provide training to police officers as it relates to collecting data on the Indigenous and racialized identity of victims and accused persons. Their recommendations are highlighted below:

  • The training should provide information on when data should be collected, what data should be collected, how they should collect it and why it is being collected.
  • There was an emphasis on the importance of police understanding the purpose of the data collection.
  • Each jurisdiction will have to consider how they will integrate their community and political context into the training for data collection while at the same time balancing it with the national requirements.
  • The training should be offered online through platforms such as the Canadian Police Knowledge Network (CPKN) for consistency across all police services. CPKN is a non-profit online platform that provides courses for police and law enforcement in Canada.
  • The training needs to be standardized across the country and shared completely with the public.
  • The training content should be updated regularly while enforcing an ongoing training beyond the initial implementation training.
  • The inclusion of interactive media and ensuring accessibility will lead to an effective training.
  • While several respondents preferred online training, some respondents also brought attention to the importance of in-person class training to practise skills through methods such as role-playing. 
  • Indigenous-led training models, which are specific to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities needs to be prioritized to ensure that the training is culturally appropriate.

Respondents were also asked to identify essential topics or information that should be covered in this training. These topics are listed below:

  • Historic legacy and impacts of colonialism and slavery.
  • Key concepts such as racism, systemic biases within policing as an institution, and systemic racism.
  • Anti-Black racism and Indigenous-focused racism.
  • How systemic racism intersects with individual prejudice, microaggressions, and implicit biases.
  • The manner in which implicit biases and stereotypes can manifest in operational practices (i.e., anti-Black implicit biases and threat perception, criminalization of Indigenous peoples).
  • Histories of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.
  • Trauma-informed training when dealing with Indigenous and racialized communities.
  • The importance of acknowledging police officers' positions of authority when interacting with the public.

Annex B: Roadmap to the Data Collection

As this data collection initiative requires notable efforts and consistent communication with several parties of interest, including Statistics Canada, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, individual police services, Indigenous and racialized communities, and records management system providers, a roadmap has been created to ensure an effective implementation of this data collection initiative.

Modification of the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey

As highlighted previously, Statistics Canada collects information on all criminal incidents reported by Canadian police services through its Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey in order to monitor the nature and extent of police-reported crime in Canada. This data collection initiative will require significant modifications to the UCR survey. These modifications include the addition of new variables in order for the police to be able to report on the Indigenous and racialized identity of accused persons and victims as it pertains to criminal incidents. Based on the recommendations, both accused person's record and victim record will need to be adapted by adding new variables to collect the information through both the "officer perception" method and the "self-identification" method. It is estimated that it will take up to 18 months to implement.

Other Technical Modifications and Considerations

Statistics Canada collaborates with several police records management systems (RMS) vendors to enable police services to collect information in accordance with the UCR Survey's reporting standards and subsequently enable the extraction of the information for statistical purposes. Accordingly, Statistics Canada will work with RMS vendors to ensure their systems are adapted to enable the collection of information on the Indigenous and racialized identity of victims and accused persons as it pertains to criminal incidents.

This work cannot be done simultaneously with Statistics Canada changes to the UCR Survey as all specifications, rules and edits need to be implemented and tested first. Based on experience from previous changes to the UCR Survey, it is estimated that this update could take up to 18 months after the RMS vendors receive the technical specifications and guidelines for this new data collection initiative. Statistics Canada will also have to work in close collaboration with RMS vendors and police information and communication technology (ICT) experts to address and mitigate technical issues that may potentially arise while implementing this data collection initiative. It is also important to note that most police services only apply major upgrades to their RMS every few years. Hence, it could nonetheless take a few years for many police services to adopt these new changes.

Further Engagement and Relationship Building

The feedback received through this engagement initiative and the resulting recommendations demonstrated the need for further engagement with communities, police services and other parties of interest to support the implementation of this data collection initiative.  It will help guide several important decisions related to technical concerns, training and other key considerations. These engagement activities take time. However, they are essential to ensure that this data collection initiative meets the needs of Indigenous and racialized communities as well as the policing community.

For instance, decisions related to UCR Survey modifications are generally made through a collaboration between Statistics Canada and the CACP Police Information and Statistics Committee. However, given the scope of the current data collection initiative, engagements with other CACP committees may be required on topics like equity, diversity and inclusion, Indigenous policing, information and communication technology, as well as policing standards, practices and training. Furthermore, long-term relationships will need to be established with Indigenous and racialized communities to ensure that their voices and lived experiences are appropriately incorporated in all decision-making. Accordingly, the established timelines for the implementation of this data collection initiative must allow sufficient time for meaningful engagements.

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