The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission continues to participate as a partner in work to address discrimination in policing following the Wortley Report. Government, police, and community all play a part in the implementation of the report’s recommendations. Here you will find information about the report, its recommendations and progress to date.
In January 2017, police street check data was publicly released that indicated Black people in Halifax were three times more likely than white people to be stopped by police.
The data supported claims from African Nova Scotians and Black communities of systemic discrimination, over-policing and targeting by law enforcement.
In September 2017, the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission responded to calls for action by announcing it would collaborate with community and police to study the issue of street checks. Dr. Scot Wortley was selected by the Commission to review all available data, consult stakeholders and to provide a report with recommendations.
On March 27, 2019, Dr. Wortley presented his independent report on the issue of police street checks. The report examined data from Halifax Regional Police and the RCMP, as well as input from 11 community consultative meetings, an online survey, and interviews with police and community representatives.
The report included 53 recommendations related to street checks in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM). The recommendations were divided into four sections:
- Option 1: A Street Checks Ban (7 Recommendations)
- Option 2: The Regulation of Street Checks (24 Recommendations)
- Data Collection on Police Stops (5 Recommendations)
- Improving Police - Community Relations (17 Recommendations)
The Wortley Report Research Committee was struck to review models for gathering race-based information from police stops. The committee is composed of representatives of the African Nova Scotian Decade for People of African Descent Coalition, Halifax Regional Police, the Nova Scotia Chiefs of Police Association and Cape Breton Regional Police, the Nova Scotia Association of Police Governance, the RCMP, African Nova Scotian Affairs, the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, and the Nova Scotia Department of Justice.
In April 2019, street checks were banned province wide. The directive also made it clear that no activity conducted by police, including a traffic stop, can be done based on discrimination, including race.
In October 2019, Michael MacDonald, a former chief justice of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, and Jennifer Taylor, a research lawyer, released an independent legal opinion commissioned by the Human Rights Commission, stating that street checks are not reasonably necessary for police to execute their duties.
In September 2021, the Halifax Police Board of Commissioners issued a 2-year update on progress achieved on the Wortley Report’s recommendations.
The Halifax District RCMP has also issued an interim report on the recommendations.
In July 2021, the Department of Justice published a summary report of progress on DOJ-led work on Wortley recommendations.
In December 2021, the Department of Justice strengthened the existing ban on street checks to provide clearer direction to police and ensure no Nova Scotian is subjected to the practice.
On September 1, 2022, the Department of Justice announced that the Province was accepting all recommendations from Wortley Report Research Committee's report, Collection of Race-Based Police Data in Nova Scotia ("the Bryan Report").