Independent Expert to Examine Police Street Check Data

Sep 18, 2017

Dr. Scot Wortley has been selected by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission as the independent expert to examine police street check data related to persons of African descent. (see full bio below).

In January 2017 police street check data from 2006 and 2016 was publicly released that indicated black people in Halifax were three times more likely to be stopped by police than white people.

The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission has since been in discussions with the police complaints commissioner, the Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT), the Halifax Regional Police, and African Nova Scotian community advocates. “Obviously we’re concerned about allegations of racial profiling and discrimination in police street checks,” said Christine Hanson, director and CEO of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. “We look forward to working closely with all parties to address any potential issues once Mr. Wortley has presented his findings.”

Headshot of Scot Wortley

Earlier this year it was agreed by the Board of Police Commissioners and the community that the commission would hire an independent expert to look at the police street check data. The parties subsequently agreed with the selection of Mr. Wortley. “He is extremely knowledgeable and highly qualified with extensive research and evaluation experience related to criminal justice and race,” said Ms. Hanson.

Mr. Wortley has doctorate in sociology and been a professor at the Centre of Criminology at University of Toronto since 1996. He is a published author on issues surrounding race and crime, including street checks. He has also worked extensively with public sector institutions, including law enforcement, in Canada and the Caribbean. One of Mr. Wortley’s assignments has been working with the Government of Ontario’s Anti-Racism Directorate to develop standards and guidelines for the collection and dissemination of race-based data within the public sector. He has also designed and implemented national crime victimization surveys and provided related recommendations to the Government of Jamaica.


Dr. Scot Wortley has been a Professor at the Centre of Criminology, University of Toronto, since 1996. He holds a B.A., M.A and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto.

In 2001, he was appointed the Justice and Law Domain Leader at the Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Settlement (CERIS).  In 2007, he was appointed by Metropolis to the position of National Priority Leader for research on Justice, Policing and Security.  Professor Wortley has also recently conducted research on youth violence as the Research Director for both the Toronto District School Board’s School Community Safety Advisory Panel (chaired by Julian Falconer) and the Ontario Government’s Roots of Youth Violence Inquiry (chaired by Roy McMurtry and Alvin Curling). 

From 2009 to 2012 Professor Wortley was the lead evaluator for Prevention Intervention Toronto (PIT) – a major gang prevention program funded by Public Safety Canada.  In 2017, Professor Wortley has been working with the Government of Ontario’s Anti-Racism Directorate to develop standards and guidelines for the collection and dissemination of race-based data within the public sector.  Finally, Professor Wortley designed and implemented the 2006, 2009, 2013 and 2016 Jamaican National Crime Victimization Surveys.  He also wrote reports for the Government of Jamaica based on these surveys – the first and most ambitious of their kind in the Caribbean region. 

Professor Wortley teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses including Introduction to Criminology, Introduction to the Canadian Criminal Justice System, Penology, Interpersonal Violence, Current Issues in International Criminology, and Youth, Culture and Crime

His recent research projects include: 1) An ongoing study that is investigating the extent and nature of street gangs in Toronto; 2) Four studies investigating the effectiveness of different youth crime and gang prevention programs in the Toronto area; 3) A project that is exploring the relationship between immigration and crime using both official police statistics and survey data; 4) A general population survey of Toronto residents that is examining racial differences in perceptions of and experiences with the Canadian criminal justice system; 5) A major survey of criminal offending and victimization among Toronto high school students and street youth; 6) Two studies that are examining the practice of “street checks” and police use of force in Ontario and British Columbia; 7) A study that is evaluating the meaning and use of firearms within Toronto’s most economically disadvantaged neighbourhoods; 8) A study that is examining the use of race-based statistics within Trinidad and Tobago’s criminal justice system; 9) a study that is evaluating cultural competency training programs for criminal justice practitioners; and 10) a study that is examining the impact of police interactions with minority youth and youth cooperation with police investigation, youth radicalization and youth offending.

Professor Wortley has made numerous presentations at international conferences and has given talks to officials at all levels of government.  He has also published chapters in a large number of edited volumes and academic journals including the American Journal of Sociology, Social Forces, Police and Society, Law and Society Review, British Journal of Sociology, Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, British Journal of Criminology, Criminal Justice, Canadian Journal of Ethnic Studies, Journal of International Migration and Integration, Sociological Perspectives and the Journal of Studies on Alcohol.  He also published an edited volume on Crime and Criminal Justice in the Caribbean with researchers from the University of the West Indies.

Professor Wortley has extensive experience with program evaluation.  Over the past decade, he has conducted ten major evaluation projects.  Individual projects include evaluations of the Toronto John School Diversion Program, Prevention Intervention Toronto (a multi-million dollar Toronto gang prevention program funded by Public Safety Canada), the Jane-Finch Positive Alternatives to Youth Gangs Program (operated by the San Romanoway Revitalization Association), the Cultural Competency Training Program for Justice Workers (operated by the African Canadian Legal Clinic) and the Youth Justice Education Program (African Canadian Legal Clinic).  Professor Wortley also produced a major report that reviewed the effectiveness of various youth crime prevention programs for the Ontario Government’s Roots of Youth Violence Inquiry.