Reuters

A new study finds that a majority of police agencies don’t track race in immigrant-rich country.

It’s an interesting milestone for a city, but one Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson is proud to tout.

“For the first time in our history, the majority of people in Vancouver speak a first language other than English, and that’s a view into the much wider world, a diverse world that it is,” Robertson said, speaking at the Cities Summit convention in Vancouver this week.

The immigrant population in Vancouver is booming, as it is in much of Canada. The 2006 Census counted 6.1 million foreign-born residents in Canada, accounting for 19.8 percent of the population. All of this makes it odd to see a new report looking at how the majority of police agencies are not tracking race in their official reports.

"Whitewashing Criminal Justice in Canada: Preventing Research through Data Suppression" appears in the Canadian Journal of Law and Society and finds that most police agencies don’t keep track of race, and when they do it’s inconsistent. This lack of information is in the face of recent studies showing that blacks are over-represented in local police stops and that Aboriginals are over-represented in Canadian prisons.

"Suppressing race statistics makes quantitative anti-racism research impossible. Further, failure to collect data does not prevent racial profiling. Stigmatization may still occur but without public knowledge of it," the authors write.

And as in Vancouver, the immigrant population in most Canadian cities is on the rise. In most Canadian cities, the amount of immigrants is slightly higher than the amount of "visible minorities" – a classification defined by the Employment Equity Act as "persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour." This chart shows the minority population as a percentage of the whole in the ten most populous cities in the country. (All of this is based on figures from the 2006 Census. 2011 figures are not yet available.)

These numbers will certainly increase when the 2011 figures become official. For a country with such a large minority population, not tracking race in crime statistics not only creates the potential for misuse of police power, but also a major lapse in understanding how crime functions in rapidly changing communities.

Photo credit: Mark Blinch/Reuters

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a photo of a WeWork office building
    Life

    What WeWork’s Demise Could Do to NYC Real Estate

    The troubled coworking company is the largest office tenant in New York City. What happens to the city’s commercial real estate market if it goes under?

  2. A man wearing a suit and tie holds an American flag at a naturalization ceremony.
    Life

    The New Geography of American Immigration

    The foreign-born population has declined in U.S. states that voted Democratic in 2016, and increased in states and metros that voted for Trump.

  3. James Mueller (left) talks to South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (right)
    Equity

    South Bend’s Mayoral Election Could Decide More than Pete Buttigieg's Replacement

    Pete Buttigieg's former chief of staff, James Mueller, is vying with a Republican challenger to be the next mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

  4. Uber Eats worker
    Life

    The Millennial Urban Lifestyle Is About to Get More Expensive

    As WeWork crashes and Uber bleeds cash, the consumer-tech gold rush may be coming to an end.

  5. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

×