Vancouver police propose policy for victims, witnesses who are undocumented immigrants

If approved, officers will not ask about an immigration status, unless needed

Vancouver police are proposing a new set of guidelines in dealing with undocumented immigrants, in hopes of quashing their fears of being deported.

The Vancouver Police (VPD) said in a statement Tuesday that the new “access without fear” guidelines, if approved, will direct officers to not ask about a victim’s, witness’, or complainant’s immigration status.

The guidelines also say that officers should not communicate with Canada Border Services Agency about an immigration status during the course of a police investigation, unless there is are bona fide reasons or there is a legal requirement to do so.

Reasons that would give enough grounds for police to ask about an immigration status include if Crown Counsel requires information for court purposes, the person may require witness protection, the information is necessary to prove essential elements of an offence or if it ensures public safety.

“The VPD is mindful of the challenges undocumented migrants face,” the guidelines read. “The protection of the public is without question the central objective of the VPD, one which applies equally to all people regardless of their immigration status.”

Police said the guidelines are “not to be construed as prohibiting VPD members from fulfilling their duties under Canadian legislation,” and would not hinder investigations that involve search warrants or written orders.

The guidelines would also not include searching Canada’s central police database for information about persons of interest when appropriate, the police said.

The new guidelines stem from a request from Vancouver City Council in April 2016, when councillors unanimously passed the city’s access without fear policy, which ensured immigrants could access city services with no questions asked.

The Vancouver Police Board will be reviewing the guidelines at a board meeting Thursday. If passed, the police detachment will deliver training on the new guidelines to its more than 500 officers, and the detachment would delegate a point of contact for any concerns.

RCMP spokespeople did not immediately return request for comment on their policy for dealing with undocumented immigrants.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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