Sunday, March 22, 2009

Canadian Human Rights Commission Study on Police Profiling

The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) and the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) have released a joint study on profiling in the national security context.

Entitled The Effectiveness of Profiling from a National Security Perspective, the study looks at whether the use of profiling techniques by law enforcement agencies makes any real contribution to national security while also protecting human rights:
"The very definition of profiling raises issues, in terms of not only the current ethical debate, but also the empirical research on its usefulness and many functions ... More specifically, the term profiling is often used in a context that renders it analogous to discrimination. Authors who adopt this definition ... designate this practice as the act of targeting an individual because of his race or ethnic membership without other reasonable clues for suspecting an individual of a crime. However, most of the empirical literature on profiling approach this construct from a purely descriptive point of view of criminal investigation methods and instead designate the cataloguing of sociodemographic particularities as well as individual and psychological dispositions, personality traits, geographic location and the criminal and legal history of various types of criminals (...)"

"The purpose of this report is to evaluate the effectiveness of various types of profiling as identified in empirical literature on the subject. More precisely, the aim of this project is to evaluate, with the help of a critical review of the literature, whether various profiling methods are sufficiently developed and sophisticated to justify their application to national security. Finally, the results of this research, as well as the conclusions drawn from this evaluation, will be used to make recommendations for the Canadian Human Rights Commission with respect to what consideration this method of investigation should be given."

"This report will cover the empirical effectiveness of profiling as observed in various researched and applied contexts. The report will begin with an introduction to the methodological framework and research criteria used to evaluate the effectiveness of profiling. This will be followed by a presentation of the results of empirical research into the effectiveness of behavioural and geographic profiling as well as its admissibility in court. The next section, which will focus specifically on the preventive aspect of profiling, deals more specifically with its applications in the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking, school shootings and the prevention of recidivism in incarcerated individuals. Decision-making in situations of uncertainty, notably cognitive bias and heuristic decisions manifested when a person is compelled to make a decision in matters of security based on limited, insufficient or ambiguous information, will be covered in the sixth section of the report. Finally, conclusions drawn from empirical results and limits inherent to the research published to date on the subject of profiling will be presented in the final section."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:47 pm


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