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York Regional Police, shelters agree to work together for investigations

February 13, 2024

Posted on: February 13th, 2024. Posted by: Joseph Quigley, Original Article.

‘We believe that all people regardless of their current living situation deserve fair and equitable service,’ the updated memorandum of understanding states

York Regional Police and housing service providers have reached a new agreement to outline how both sides operate during police investigations.

The agreement outlines how police will contact and interact with housing providers when attending any housing facility. It outlines how all parties will respond during police investigations, whether for missing persons or criminal matters.

Blue Door director of programs, housing and health Alex Cheng said it was an effort to update the memorandum of understanding made in 2014, as much has changed since then. 

“The primary aim of it was to try to create a framework of understanding so both the service providers would be able to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of the people we service, but at the same time, build this collaboration with police as well,” Chang said. 

As well as Blue Door, the agreement includes York Region’s many shelters, such as 360°kids, Inn From the Cold, John Howard Society of York Region, Krasman Centre, Salvation Army, Sandgate Women’s Shelter and Project Hostel. 

The agreement includes a statement of principles about fairness and respect.

“We believe that all people regardless of their current living situation deserve fair and equitable service,” the agreement states. “We will strive to provide respectful, fair and equitable services for all service recipients and recognize the vulnerability and the discrimination experienced by the population we serve.”

Cheng said they updated the agreement to include new partners, with the shelters in York Region shifting over the last decade. The agreement was also updated to address rules around the sharing of information, finding missing persons, and ensuring a centralized way police can contact shelters about missing persons.

“It’s very important because we’re all organizations of different sizes,” he said. “How do we get to a point where we’re all getting that basic understanding of what those situations could be and how we could understand each other’s work a little better, so we have really, for the most part, positive resolutions.” 

The agreement lays out that generally, those who use service providers will still be assured of confidentiality, except where they provide written permission, child protection issues, or legal obligation due to judicial warrant or federal/provincial act.

The agreement also includes a section on human trafficking. The agreement goes over how service providers can contact police in suspected human trafficking cases.

“Service providers and York Regional Police commit to work collaboratively to raise awareness of and supporting victims of human trafficking,” the agreement said.