Ombudsman to Investigate the Toronto Police’s Vulnerable Persons Registry
Toronto’s Ombudsman Kwame Addo has today launched an investigation into the Toronto Police Service’s Vulnerable Persons Registry (VPR) to determine if its communication to the public about the registry is adequate and fair.
The VPR was recommended by former Supreme Court Justice Iacobucci in his 2014 report on Toronto Police encounters with people in crisis. It is a voluntary database that contains information about a vulnerable person—defined by the Toronto Police Service as a person who, due to medical, cognitive, mental health, or physical conditions, may exhibit patterns of behaviour that pose a danger to themselves.
The information in the VPR—which is voluntarily provided by the person or someone with legal authority over them—includes specific behaviours Toronto Police may encounter when interacting with the person as well as recommended de-escalation strategies, providing frontline officers with context about any personal behaviours they may observe.
As a part of the investigation, the Ombudsman will review the clarity and meaningfulness of the Toronto Police Service’s communications to the public about the registry, including but not limited to:
- The purpose of the VPR
- The VPR’s registration, verification, and engagement process
- Toronto Police Service’s use of the individual’s information
Ombudsman Toronto will be speaking with people who have had experience or are registered with the VPR. Interested members of the public can write to Ombudsman Toronto at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the office by phone at 416-392-7062.
This investigation is the result of the Toronto’s Ombudsman Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Toronto Police Service and Toronto Police Services Board. The MOU gives Toronto’s Ombudsman the authority to review the fairness of Toronto Police procedures and programs. The Ombudsman’s office will concentrate its review on activities that have a demonstrated public interest, a high level of contact with the public, and the potential to improve the fairness of police services to the public. The goal is to create systemic improvements and fairer policing in Toronto.
To avoid duplication and conflict with other oversight bodies, Ombudsman Toronto cannot investigate individual complaints about the Toronto Police Service or how it handles complaints. It also cannot review the conduct of individual officers, focusing instead on the systemic impacts of Toronto Police procedures and programs.
Ombudsman Toronto is an independent, impartial office that operates at arm’s length from the City of Toronto. This independence extends to all its investigations of the Toronto Police Service. The Ombudsman has control and discretion over all of its investigations, public reports, and recommendations concerning the Toronto Police Service.
“Last year, Toronto Police officers responded to more than 30,000 calls involving individuals experiencing mental health challenges and emotional distress. The Vulnerable Persons Registry was a tool created to give information to Toronto Police that will allow them to de-escalate these encounters better. The Toronto Police Service has a responsibility to serve all people fairly – especially when serving individuals who are in crisis and experiencing emotional distress. I am launching an investigation to ensure the Vulnerable Persons Registry is meeting that vital standard of fairness.” – Kwame Addo, Ombudsman
For more information, contact:
Ombudsman Toronto listens to and investigates people’s complaints and concerns about City of Toronto administration and the fairness of City services. We are a free and impartial office that operates independently from the City, holding it accountable to the people it serves.