Information Transparency and Data Sharing
March 2, 2023
Minute No: P2023-0302-4.0.
REVIEWED (R) AND/OR AMENDED (A)
Police Services Act, R.S.O. 1990, c.P.15, as amended, s. 31(1)(c).
The Toronto Police Service (the Service), in the course of carrying out its duties, collects administrative information on members of the public, Service members, reported incidents, and the variety of systems used by the Service. This data presents an opportunity to improve policing services provided to the people of Toronto and coordination across all community safety and wellbeing stakeholders in Toronto, keep the Service accountable for its actions, and improve effectiveness and efficiency. At the same time, this data can, if not properly protected, represent a risk to the privacy of the individuals it describes, often at some of the most difficult and sensitive moments of their lives. The Toronto Police Services Board (the Board) wishes to maximize the transparency and accountability of the Service through the public availability of data, while protecting the right to privacy of members of the public and Service Members.
This Policy seeks to achieve these twin goals by adhering to the principles and best practices of Open Data as described in Ontario’s Digital and Data Directive and the International Open Data Charter. In accordance with these generally-accepted principles, data must be openly accessible to all, in a machine-readable, platform- independent, vendor-neutral format, and provided with an open license.
In addition, the Service must strive to ensure that data and information is accurate, timely, interpretable, and coherent. Wherever possible, primary, de-identified data should be provided. In interpreting this Policy, the Chief should strive to make data related to community safety and wellbeing as open as possible, with the presumption that information and data should be open unless there is justifiable reason for it to be kept closed.
Purpose of Policy
The purpose of this Policy is to:
- Improve public trust in the Service through increased transparency;
- Increase public access to meaningful, contextualized information and data collected by the Service;
- Encourage greater and more meaningful engagement of the public with the work carried out by the Service;
- Facilitate academic research on policing in Toronto and Canada;
- Support evidence-based decisions with reliable and complete data; and,
- Protect the privacy of members of the public and Service Members;
Policy of the Board
It is, therefore, the policy of the Toronto Police Services Board that the Chief of Police will:
Open Data Approach
- Develop processes to ensure that, with regards to any information generated by the Service and data collected by the Service which are related to community safety and well-being, consideration is given to making it freely accessible to the public, while protecting the privacy of members of the public and Service Members, ensuring not to endanger the efficacy of investigative techniques and operations, and abiding by all relevant confidentiality requirements, the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the Act) or any other relevant legislation, including considering potential risks resulting from combining the information with other data sets that were made available;
- Ensure that all data that is approved for release is published in an accurate and timely manner, and in a de-identified format that is openly accessible, machine readable and interpretable;
Sharing of Open Data
- Share regularly updated datasets from the Toronto Police Service's Open Data Portal with the City of Toronto for display and distribution on the City's Open Data Portal, subject to the need to protect personal privacy and to comply with any privacy legislation;
- Ensure that all Toronto Police Services Board annual reports posted from 2021 onwards, and all files posted on the Toronto Police Service's Open Data Portal from 2021 onwards, are provided in appropriate digital format for use and distribution on the City's Open Data Portal;
- Ensure continuous data sharing with the City of Toronto to inform and facilitate city-wide approaches to violence prevention and community safety, including with respect to the City’s Community Safety and Well-Being Planning efforts; and,
Development of Standards
- Work in collaboration with other chiefs of police across Ontario and Canada to develop data collection, analysis and reporting standards, so as to generate consistency in approach that facilitates better comparisons and benchmarking.
It is also the policy of the Board that:
- The Board will collaborate with other police services boards and commissions across Canada, in consultation with all levels of government and other stakeholders, including the Inspector General of Policing of Ontario and Statistics Canada, to promote the use of inter-operable data collection and reporting standards for policing across Ontario and Canada.
Furthermore, it is the policy of the Board that the Chief of Police will:
- Ensure the full implementation of sections 2–5 as soon as feasible and no later than December 2025;
- Include in the Service’s annual statistical report an index of all open datasets published by the Service either on its own website or on the City of Toronto’s Open Data Portal; and
- Report annually to the Board with a list of all the organizations with which the Service has a data-sharing agreement in force, and the type of data being shared.