Pathways to Police Adoption of Body and Dash Cameras in Canada: How and Why Parliament Should Intervene
Forthcoming in Criminal Law Quarterly, 2021
28 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2020
Date Written: March 1, 2020
As part of a global trend, police forces across Canada have recently piloted or debated policies for the use of body and dash cameras. Extensive studies by two of Canada’s largest police forces have recommended adopting cameras, and copious scholarship has supported their potential for improving police accountability and trial efficiency. Yet, few police forces in Canada have formally adopted a policy to use cameras. Courts in recent cases have refused to recognize a right to police camera evidence under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, pursuant to either the disclosure requirements of sections 7 and 11(d), or the scope of what constitutes a search carried out in a reasonable manner under section 8. But judges in other cases have decried the failure by police to use camera evidence to assist in prosecution. Recent deliberations within the RCMP, Toronto, and other police forces in Canada point to cost as an obstacle. This article surveys these developments to lend context for the argument that Parliament could foster greater uniformity in the adoption and use of police cameras and more efficient prosecutions — without unduly interfering in local funding decisions — by legislating a requirement that police use cameras in discrete situations, including arrest and detention, vehicle stops for Criminal Code offences, and residential searches.
Keywords: body cams, body camera, police, dash cameras, charter, Canada
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