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OACP releases new provincial guideline for police record checks

July 28, 2011

The Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) has developed a new provincial guideline for police records checks.

When an individual with a mental health condition is detained and apprehended by police under the Mental Health Act, it generates an occurrence with the local police services and creates a non-criminal police record. This record is generated even if the individual is merely being escorted to the hospital or emergency room by police, thus creating an unnecessary listing of the individual’s interactions with the mental health system. This type of mental health police record contributes to the stigma of mental illness, and often leads to discrimination against individuals with mental health conditions when they are required to obtain a spotless police records check or a vulnerable sector screening for the purpose of working or volunteering with a vulnerable population. OCAP’s new Guideline for Police Record Checks prohibits the disclosure of such non-criminal mental health information.

The Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario (CMHA, Ontario) applauds the OACP for their commitment to protecting the privacy of individuals with mental health conditions, through the development of their new provincial guideline for conducting police records checks. The Police Records Check Coalition, co-chaired by CMHA Ontario, the Ontario Association of Patient Councils and the Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office, is a collaborative initiative of over 30 member organizations and individuals. It has been steadily advocating for systemic change in the area of mental health police records to ensure that all individuals who have contact with the police pursuant to the Mental Health Act are treated as equal members of the community.

In a press release, Lorne Zon, CEO of CMHA Ontario stated, “Through the new provincial guideline, the OACP has taken measures ensuring confidentiality and protecting the right to privacy for Ontarians with mental health conditions. The next step is for all police services across Ontario to adopt and implement this guideline to ensure that police record checks are being conducted uniformly across the province.”

To access the press release, visit www.ontario.cmha.ca/media.

For more information about the Police Records Check Coalition, visit www.sse.gov.on.ca.

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