The Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police have released a best practices document – the first of its kind in Canada – to help police services address issues of importance to members of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities across the province. The document, titled Best Practices in Policing and LGBTQ Communities in Ontario, specifically addresses the issue of strip searches for transgender individuals.
In Forrester v. Peel (Regional Municipality) Police Services Board, 2006 HRTO 13, Rosalyn Forrester brought an Ontario Human Rights Code complaint against the Peel Police Services Board alleging discrimination in services on the basis of sex. Forrester is a transgender woman who claimed she was questioned, mocked, incarcerated, and inappropriately strip-searched following a series of arrests. The police denied her requests that female officers perform these searches. The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, at para. 476 of the decision, held that a trans-identified detainee should be offered one of three options prior to conducting a strip-search:
» male officer(s) only
» female officer(s) only
» a split search (male and female officer(s), depending on the area of the body being searched).
The Tribunal explained that, prior to conducting the strip search, an officer must outline the process, take notes before conducting the search including the choice made by a trans detainee, and notify his or her Officer-in-Charge who will authorize the strip search. The Tribunal also stated that, if the detainee becomes a security risk during the course of the strip search, then any officers present may be permitted to take steps to protect themselves and other detainees, as well as to maintain order.
These circumstances must be documented by the Officer-in-Charge of the Division. Since the release of the decision in 2006, a number of police services throughout the province, including the Peel Regional Police Service and the Toronto Police Service, have developed policies that comply with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal’s decision in Forrester.
Nowhere in the document is there any recognition of the imposition on female police officers being required to search male-bodied people.
OACP Media Release LGBTQ best practices document.
Ontario police chiefs release LGBTQ guidelines for forces.
OACP LGBTQ final Nov2013.