[Hpn] Homeless pan cops

Graeme Bacque gbacque@colosseum.com
Thu, 18 Nov 2004 06:34:01 -0500


Thu, November 18, 2004

Homeless pan cops


A SURVEY OF 200 homeless people in Toronto's shelters and on the streets
found 9% (about 18) reported they had been assaulted by police in the
previous year. The study by the Centre for Research on Inner City Health
at St. Michael's Hospital also found 21% of the homeless would not call

"One potential result of distrust in police is they would be less likely
to seek emergency services even when they're in need of them," said Dr.
Stephen Hwang, the study's senior author.

All told, 61% of the homeless interviewed in 2001 for the survey
reported an interaction with police in the previous year.

The study appears in December's Journal of Urban Health.

Hwang said the findings echo a similar 1992 survey, when 10% of homeless
reported assaults by police. However, Hwang acknowledged the numbers of
reported assaults by police could not be independently confirmed.

"Apart from the issue of what actually happened, what's clear is
homeless people in general have a low level of trust in police," Hwang said.

Toronto's Acting Deputy Chief David Dicks said the survey has its
shortcomings because the assaults are self-reported and cannot be verified.

"It's a survey where they acknowledge the limitations that are there,"
Dicks said.

Dicks said the police service is just one of many agencies dealing with
the homeless. Officers often come into contact with the homeless to
offer help, not just to enforce the law, he said.

"It's important to acknowledge the work we do with homeless."

Officers in 51 and 52 Divisions met residents and community agencies
last week to find ways to help the homeless.

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