Ontario police may be heading towards review after a watchdog report claimed that the practice of illegal strip searches has become a disturbing issue amongst Ontario police officers. According to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director in a report obtained by The Canadian Press, the protocol used by officers in the province when conducting strip searches has shown to be “inconsistent”.
The lacking protocol and insufficiency of data when it comes to the searches has investigators questioning the officers' justification to do them. In the report, 50 recommendations are listed in the hopes of curbing the pressing issue. Police currently conduct over 22,000 strip searches a year.
Strip searches are typically conducted when officers have reason to believe the induvial may be hiding paraphernalia or other items underneath their clothes or in their body cavities. However, the report argues that police may be failing to check the correct boxes before initiating a search which would be a violation of the individual's privacy rights.
“It is extremely concerning ... police continue to conduct strip searches in violation of the law,” review Director Gerry McNeilly stated, according to CP24.
“This comes at a high cost to those directly affected by humiliating and intrusive searches and to the justice system, especially where unlawful searches result in the exclusion of evidence or the staying of charges,” McNeilly continued.
Investigators determined that the young man, who had been charged with public intoxication, should not have had to endure the invasive procedure, stating the failure to assess the situation correctly was the direct result of police misconduct.