The Canadian charter of rights and freedom and its effect on the policing and public safety

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The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has been criticized by many as its public rights section has stipulated some regulations regarding the rights of the individual that might have affected the policing system and public safety of the citizens. Now after more than two decades of implementation of the charter we can safely analyse its effect on the policing system and the public safety of the citizens of Canada. The police initially put forth a valid debate against the public rights charter as it had the potential to affect the policing system and promotion of public safety negatively. However, in light of the situation regarding policing and public safety in Canada disproves the fact as the charter’s influence on public safety has not had any detrimental effect on the policing system in such a magnitude to cause worry (Morse, 2003). This factor has been supported throughout the essay by pointing out the various facets of the charter and its effect on the policing system and the public safety.  The thesis that is supported throughout the essay is the factor of the lack of negative impact of the charter on public safety and the policing system has been emphasised and supported by different parts of the charter.

The charter and its analysis

The following analysis is based on the word and spirit of the charter and the interpretation of its meaning that in no way acts as an impediment to the policing o promotion of public safety. The different facets of the charter have been discussed along with supporting arguments in favour of the thesis in the following points.

The criminal justice system

The charter stipulates that the criminal justice system should be fair and impartial but it should be used as a last resort in the cases where the judicial system might have some impact on the civil rights and liberties of the individual. This statement is supportive of the fact that the criminal justice system is in no way impeded by the charter of public rights. It also stipulates that the punishment that is deemed appropriate must not be overly harsh and fitting for the crime after the context and specific circumstances of the case has been taken into consideration (Bayefsky and Eberts, 1985). This should be and is usually part of the other justice systems so it cannot be deemed as an impediment of the justice system. Therefore, the criminal justice system is free of any negative influence of the charter of liberties.

Search and seizure

All people have their private spaces and information that they choose to share with some people and exclude others. The policing system’s rights to invade these private spaces and making them public knowledge is blow to the human dignity and overall composure of the person involved. Therefore, the rights of the person to keep some information secret cannot be denied as it is ethically part of the civilised society. The rights of search and seizure of the personal belonging and the right to invade private space has been limited by the charter and even before that a warrant was required for the police to invade the privacy of the people. The charter is justified in their limiting of the rights of search and seizure but it cannot be called an impediment as it is preserving the rights of the people to preserve their dignity. If there is ample cause to search and seize some items that are illegal there can always be a warrant which is approved by the judiciary (Daly, 2006). The limiting of the right of the police to invade the privacy of an individual and his right to preserve his human dignity is an essential part of civilised behaviour and not an impediment as the warrant system is available for the cases where the invasion of privacy is absolutely necessary for public safety.

Record checks by the police

The record checks have been an essential part of employment screening but the charter stipulates that they are unnecessary unless the employee’s responsibility includes handling of sensitive information or resources (Greene, 1989). It can be justified by saying that tone single act on indiscretion cannot define the character of a person and the police record checks for the professions that are not sensitive are an unnecessary violation of privacy. Therefore, the support of the charter only makes the opinion of the people more prominent. The necessity of the record checks has been judged to be inconsequential to the employment of an individual and thus making it unnecessary in terms of employment and the validation o the police record search for such trivial matters is expenditure the government can do without. Therefore, this step can also be justified by logic and common sense (Manfredi and Kelly, 2009).

The use of force and rights of the police

The police are civil servants who are afforded by a certain amount of power over the common folk. The common folk interact with the police daily as suspects, witnesses, victims and simple as members of public so the course of interaction are defined by the rights that are due to the public and the police. The police have the right to use force to gain compliance from members of the public so their rights and reasons behind the actions should be scrutinised thoroughly (Morse, 2003). This is another fact that is supported by the charter and it is deemed necessary in many circumstances. The charter only limits the rights of the police as their actions without ample provocation and definite sign of guilt can lead to violation of public rights easily. So, the stipulations regarding the rights of the policing system and especially the use of force to force compliance from the convicted of witness or even victim can be seen as a necessary action to retain the spirit of the democracy where the thousands of Canadians are concerned. Therefore, the charters intervention in the limiting of rights of the police to use force can be seen as a necessary measure to preserve the spirit of democracy. The police can never be given absolute right so the impediment created by the charter is a justified measure and cannot be disputed by logic.

Pre-trial detention

The number of the people in Canada who are in sentenced custody remained steady throughout the years as the charter came into effect but the number of pre-trial detention rates increased drastically which touched the breaking point in 2005. In 2005 and the years since the number of people in the pre-trial detention were greater than the people in sentenced custody. So this proves the fact that the policing system has not been hindered by the charter as they still have imprisoned innocents unfairly just because of suspicion. In fact, the statistically proven figure of the percentage of innocents in the pre-trial detention number at 55% which means more than half the people detained is innocents. Therefore, the police cannot say that their operations of dispensing justice have been impeded by the charter as they still continue to violate the rights of innocents without proof and consideration of their rights (Canadian Civil Liberties Association, 2016). In support of the argument it can be said that the crime rate on Canada has steadily decreased over the last two decades so the statement that the civil rights charter might hinder the police is unfounded.

Incarceration and rights of the prisoners

The incarceration of the people who are convicted is justified but the prison system of Canada never did discriminate between the convicted and the people waiting bail decisions or in pre-trial custody which cannot be condoned by any civilised person. The prison is an opaque institution that has a very high amount of control over all aspects of the lives of the prisoners. Consequently, the civil rights in the prisons and violations of the same cannot be stopped without intervention of the government and the charter is the first step in that direction (Rolla, 2007). Although the charter is fairly ineffective in this regard the attempt to give voice to the concern where the public rights might be violated has been successful and the stricter scrutiny of the prison system and the lives of the prisoners has resulted from the effort. This might not be called impediment as the complete control over all aspects of the lives of other person are ethically wrong and the off chance that the person might be innocent makes it doubly so (Sharpe and Roach, 2005).


It can be easily seen from the argument that the charter has not taken any action to impede the justice system and especially the policing and public safety. It only gives the people rights to question the rights of the policing system and their intervention in personal matters in the name of public safety. Thus, it can be concluded that the charter on civil rights does not affect the policing system negatively not does it endanger public safety. It checks the rights of the policing system but it prevents misuse of power and interpretation of law so it is totally justified in its application.

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