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article imageMedia Audit Faults Police Over Taser Reports

By Bob Ewing     Jan 10, 2009 in Politics
A report on Canada's freedom-of-information laws says Canadian police force continue withhold key information from the public about how officers are using tasers.
A new report on Canada's freedom-of-information laws claims police forces in Canada continue to withhold key information from the public about how officers are using tasers.
In Regina, Saskatoon and Saint John, the police, refused to release any use-of-force reports, which must be completed when officers draw their stun guns.,
In Winnipeg,the police agreed to release the information but were charging $4,500 to do so. While in Hamilton, police asserted that Ontario law prevented them from making such reports public.
Some police forces did provide the information without charge, Halifax, Fredericton, Calgary and Victoria, for example.
In 2008, the RCMP apologized for excessive secrecy surrounding its use-of-force taser reports, which initially had key information removed when released to The Canadian Press and other news media.
The association's annual audit of Canada's freedom-of-information laws, this one organized by Fred Vallance-Jones, a journalism professor at the University of King's College in Halifax, found police forces in Canada continue to withhold key information from the public about how officers are using tasers. This is the fourth audit carried out by the daily newspaper group.
The report was complied by sending 219 requests to 22 municipal governments and their police services, 10 provinces and Yukon, and 11 federal departments and Crown corporations. The requests were made by students acting as ordinary citizens.
The refusal to release taser information is disturbing, as there is a growing controversy about the use of the weapon in Canada
"The police must be held to account, just like government or anyone who exercises power on the public's behalf," said David Gollob, senior vice-president of policy and communications.
"Police forces are supposed to be examples of lawful compliance," Canada's Information Commissioner Robert Marleau said.
Marleau stated the federal act as "an outdated piece of legislation with a weak compliance model."
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