I am writing to you because I am concerned about the release of non-conviction records on police record checks. I know that not all police services across the country release this type of information on record checks, so I am writing to inquire if your service does regularly release this information; if you do release this information, I urge you to revisit this practice.
The release of non-conviction records leads to needless discrimination against people across our country on a daily basis. People with mental health issues who had contact with police during a crisis are being denied jobs and volunteer placements due to their police records. Students who have had minor contact with the police and criminal justice system are getting kicked out of their programs and are denied opportunities to complete their volunteer hours and student placements. Community safety is important - but regularly releasing these types of records are not helping us keep our vulnerable community members safe. On the contrary, they further disadvantage these vulnerable members and pose significant barriers to social inclusion and participation.
The practice of requesting, releasing and making decisions based on non-conviction information is discriminatory and stigmatizing. Reporting this information often leads to the assumption that these individuals did something wrong or committed a criminal activity when in fact they required medical care.
Disclosure of non-conviction information undermines the presumption of innocence, individual privacy, dignity and equality.
I know that police do not bear sole responsibility for this issue – but you are, nevertheless, in a uniquely powerful position and have the ability to effect immediate change. Some policing leaders have already shown a willingness to concretely address this issue by changing police policies. I hope you will do the same.