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Posted September 18, 2013

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Policing

Report recommending changes to the police complaints system released

TORONTO – Greater transparency, better communication and increased accountability are needed to improve the police complaints system, says a report from the Ontario Police Complaints Forum, released today at Scadding Court Community Centre (SCCC).

The report, "Perspectives from the Community, Police and Policy-Makers" is the result of two days of meetings held in Toronto last November. About 150 delegates from 60 organizations and nine police services from across Ontario met and made a number of recommendations that focused on how to improve the police complaints system, and specifically the role and function of the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD).

"One of the main findings to come out of discussions at the forum is that all stakeholders– government, the public, and law enforcement–need to be accountable in order for the system to be most effective," said Professor Jennifer Schulenberg of the University of Waterloo, and co-author of the report. "A greater understanding of roles and responsibilities within the police complaints system and increasing accessibility for the public is integral in order to move forward."

SCCC hosted an expert panel today in partnership with the University of Waterloo to launch the final report and its recommendations.

“Scadding Court and a number of organizations across the city and province have been working together to transform the system since 2003," said Kevin Lee, executive director of SCCC. “Scadding Court will continue to work with others to make the system more accessible, particularly to under-represented groups, while providing on-the-ground programs and services to improve local community-police relations."

“The OIPRD is a very important part of the police oversight system. I am so glad that such a thorough and thoughtful report has been done so community will have a good path forward," says Tam Goossen, vice-president of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations.

“Safe communities need human rights, equity and mutual respect at all levels. People need to be sure that if discrimination and harassment take place in a police force, they are dealt with. I believe the recent decision to hear cases of discrimination and harassment through both the police complaints process and before the human rights tribunal, if needed, is a big step in the right direction”, said Barbara Hall, Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

The panel, “Future Directions for the Ontario Police Complaints System: Recommendations from the Community, Police and Policy-makers," featured key speakers Tam Goossen, vice-president of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations; Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall of the Ontario Human Rights Commission; Alok Mukherjee, chair of the Toronto Police Services Board; and Assistant Professor Jennifer Schulenberg, University of Waterloo.

Professor Schulenberg received a Public Outreach Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to fund this initiative. The City of Toronto and the Law Foundation of Ontario also supported the project. The Ontario Police Complaints System Forum: Perspectives from the community, police and policy-makers was held in Toronto on November 26 and November 27, 2012. Co-chaired by SCCC and the University of Waterloo. For more information or to view a copy of the final report, please visit: http://www.scaddingcourt.org/pdflibrary/2013police-forum-report.pdf

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