Legal advocates concerned over Transit Police partnership with Barwatch
CTV News Vancouver
Published Tuesday, July 16, 2019 12:49PM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 16, 2019 4:48PM PDT
Transit police are teaming up with Barwatch to identify transit users causing problems in Vancouver's entertainment district.
The police force says they'll be working to investigate passengers who are "frequent patrons" of downtown Vancouver, and will share intelligence relating to the person's lifestyle or criminal associations.
"If someone leaves an establishment in Vancouver, they leave and cause an issue on the transit system – whether that’s a criminal offence or puts the public at risk – our officers may share that information with Barwatch," said Sgt. Clint Hampton.
He says the information would only be passed on from police to Barwatch if the public was at risk.
"People wouldn’t be subject to random checks, this is going to be something we’re dealing with in response to an event," he said.
But legal advocates say the details are concerning.
"We’re deeply concerned. It sounds an awful lot like profiling people on transit to give information to a private entity," said B.C. Civil Liberties policy director Micheal Vonn. "Naturally this raises a number of civil liberties concerns."
Transit Police also say the information shared with Barwatch will be passed along to the Vancouver Police Department for intelligence services.
The partnership comes five months after a push by Vancouver City Council to punish people who fight in public, largely in downtown Vancouver.
The motion was partly prompted by VPD data that revealed almost two-thirds of people arrested for fighting in the entertainment district on Friday and Saturday nights live outside the city.
The area, which encompasses clubs and bars on the Granville strip, has become notorious for violence.
Nightclub promoter Kalwinder Thind was stabbed and killed while trying to break up a fight at the Cabana nightclub on Granville Street on Jan. 27, 2018.
His death prompted calls from local politicians for more security cameras in the area.