Recent changes to law enforcement disclosure practices in Ontario, aimed at promoting greater respect for gender diversity, appear not to be gaining any traction in Manitoba — for now.
Late last month, the Ontario Provincial Police announced a new policy in which it will stop releasing the gender of people involved in crimes.
At the time of the announcement, OPP spokeswoman Sgt. Carolle Dionne told reporters that Ontario legislation does not require the release of an individual’s gender.
"We’re using ‘the individual,’ ‘the accused,’ or ‘the driver,’ or ‘the suspect’ or ‘a person of interest,’ to remain gender-neutral," Dionne said at a press conference.
"The focus is about an individual being charged in the courts as a result of their illegal activity. For example, an impaired driver, it doesn’t matter that it was a male or a female."
The policy — reportedly implemented in May — will apply to individuals accused or suspected of crimes, and to their victims.
"The focus is about an individual being charged in the courts as a result of their illegal activity. For example, an impaired driver, it doesn’t matter that it was a male or a female." -OPP spokeswoman Sgt. Carolle Dionne
However, Winnipeg Police Service spokesman Const. Rob Carver said there are no plans to follow suit here.
"There is no discussion within the WPS to stop identifying people by gender," Carver said in a written statement to the Free Press.
A request for comment was also sent to the Manitoba RCMP. A Mountie spokeswoman directed the Free Press to the RCMP’s national media relations office, which did not respond Tuesday.
While the OPP won’t be revealing gender publicly, it will continue to collect such data for its own statistics. And it will continue to reveal the name, age and hometown of crime suspects.
The change in policy was reportedly sparked by a review of multiple pieces of legislation, including the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Police Services Act.
Critics of the new policy have said it could lead to unintended consequences, including masking the extent to which violence is committed against women and people who identify as gender-diverse.
Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.