News Release

The SIU and Race-based Data Collection

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Mississauga, ON (17 October, 2023) ---
Today, consistent with its obligations under the Anti-Racism Act, 2017, and the Act’s regulation, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) is releasing de-identified race-based data collected in connection with investigations between October 1, 2020, and September 30, 2021, as well as an analysis of the data prepared in a report by researchers with Wilfrid Laurier University.  

SIU Race-based Data/Backgrounder:

Report by Wilfrid Laurier Researchers:

The data were collected from ‘affected persons’ in SIU cases, namely, persons who have been seriously injured, alleged sexual assault, been the subject of a firearm discharge by the police or (via their next-of-kin) died. Information was also collected from subject officials, that is, the officers who are the focus of SIU investigations.

Highlights from the data and the report include:
  • Of the 398 surveys distributed to affected persons, 98, or 25%, were returned.
  • Of the 460 surveys distributed to subject officials, 9, or 2%, were returned.
  • Among affected persons, persons who identified as Black were represented nearly 3.5 times more frequently in SIU investigations compared to their proportional representation in the Ontario population.  Persons who identified as Indigenous were nearly 6.25 times more frequently represented.  People who identified as Latino, Middle Eastern and Other were represented slightly more frequently.  People who identified as East or Southeast Asian, South Asian or White were either less frequently or significantly less frequently represented in SIU investigations.
  • The SIU's limited discretion to choose what cases it investigated meant limited inferences could be drawn from the overrepresentation of racialized persons in the data insofar as the SIU is concerned. 
  • In other demographic markers, affected persons who identified as Men were 1.65 times more frequently represented in SIU cases compared to their proportional representation in the Ontario population.  Affected persons who identified as Women were nearly three times less frequently represented.  No affected person identified as Other.  
  • Survey response rates, particularly among subject officials, were simply too low to be able to draw any significant observations about possible racial bias at the SIU towards affected persons or subject officials.
  • Among affected persons, Black and Indigenous men were markedly overrepresented in SIU cases that were closed by memo before a full investigation.   Cases are closed by memo before a full investigation, for example, when the SIU receives medical records at a preliminary stage in the investigation establishing an absence of “serious injury” and, therefore, a lack of SIU jurisdiction.  White men were marginally overrepresented in these types of cases.  No Black or Indigenous women were represented in these cases.  
The report prepared by Wilfrid Laurier University researchers makes a number of recommendations for improving the quality and quantity of data collected by the SIU moving forward, including:
  • Augmenting self-report surveys with investigator-produced reports of perceived race.
  • Consultations between the SIU, the Attorney General and/or Solicitor General to produce accurate, standardized reporting of police demographics.
  • Qualitative interviews with affected persons and subject officials to better understand how race is perceived to influence SIU investigations.
All inquiries relating to the report, and its findings and recommendations, should be directed to the report’s authors:

Patrick G. Watson, PhD
T. Sidhu, MA

“As with any public agency, the SIU must be vigilant in identifying and eliminating systemic racism wherever it may be found in its operations. The collection and analysis of race-based data is a critical step in this process, as is its release to the public,” said SIU Director Joseph Martino. “The SIU is committed to improving the response rates among affected persons and subject officials.  We are also reviewing the recommendations contained in the report for improving the quality and quantity of available data and, where feasible, will work towards their implementation.” 

If you or someone you know is an affected person in need of support, please call the Affected Persons Program General Referral Line at 1-877-641-1897 or click here for more information:

The SIU is an independent government agency that investigates the conduct of officials (police officers as well as special constables with the Niagara Parks Commission and peace officers with the Legislative Protective Service) that may have resulted in death, serious injury, sexual assault and/or the discharge of a firearm at a person. All investigations are conducted by SIU investigators who are civilians. Under the Special Investigations Unit Act, the Director of the SIU must

  • consider whether the official has committed a criminal offence in connection with the incident under investigation
  • depending on the evidence, cause a criminal charge to be laid against the official where grounds exist for doing so, or close the file without any charges being laid
  • publicly report the results of its investigations

Lisez ce communiqué en français.

Monica Hudon,
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES