OPP not to reveal gender of victims and accused

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A policy change by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) will result in that the force will no longer reveal the gender of people who are charged with crimes as well as those who are victims of crimes. The comes following a review of legislation and the need to be more progressive.

“It doesn’t matter if it was a male or a female who was an impaired driver or speeding down the highway, what matters is that we pulled them over and laid a charge.”

The OPP says a regular review of the Police Services Act, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, as well as the Ontario Human Rights Code forced the change. Those pieces of legislation have not recently been updated.

Often, a name in a media release is gender-specific. However, in cases where someone’s gender is not immediately apparent, the OPP used to clarify gender when asked.

Some believe that this is simply the OPP exerting an abundance of caution as it attempts to steer away from any legal liability.

Other police services have not resisted following the OPP’s lead.

“The police services act and related regulations provide the chief with the discretionary ability to release personal information in specified circumstances,” a media spokesperson for the London police said. “This includes the discretionary ability to release information relating to an individual’s gender in appropriate circumstances.”

The province’s privacy commissioner said Ontario’s freedom of information laws do not prohibit the disclosure of gender.

“There may be other laws and decisions, such as the Ontario Human Rights Code, that may be applicable,” Privacy Commissioner Brian Beamish said. -CINEWS

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