A coalition of legal and community-based organizations has submitted a formal Service and Policy complaint regarding the Vancouver Police Department’s Trespass Prevention Program (TPP). The TPP program authorizes police officers to remove people without a call for 911 service if they have allegedly violated the provincial Trespass Act. Complainants are calling for the termination of the TPP and a public accounting of its operations to date.
This complaint, filed with the VPD Professional Standards Section, outlines ongoing concerns related to the VPD’s use of the TPP. Organizations and local advocates began sounding the alarm in January, specifically raising concerns about its intrusion on the rights and liberties of people who rely on public space. Complainants characterize this law enforcement program as a discriminatory practice that disproportionately impacts Indigenous and racialized people and communities who navigate systemic poverty.
There are no written policies or public guidelines that guide the use of the TPP within the police force. The TPP enables VPD officers to enforce the BC Trespass Act 24 hours per day, through an agreement that does not expire unless it is revoked by the land-owner/occupier. In the absence of any governing policy, the TPP represents a marked departure from the existing regulations of the VPD. Despite glaring gaps, the TPP remains operational, and the VPD confirms that more than 100 businesses and stratas have signed up for the program. This allows members of the VPD to potentially expand its collection of personal and identifying information.
The BCCLA has been raising complaints about BC’s Trespass Act since 1981 according to the Service and Policy complaint. The TPP enables the VPD to enter into a series of agreements with private property business owners. These agreements serve as the basis for the displacement of people who rely on public space.
BC Provincial Policing Standards on the “Promotion of Unbiased Policing” stipulates that police decisions to stop people must not be based on identity factors, including race, economic or social status. The TPP, however, enables police to initiate contact without addressing the inherent bias in policing marginalized identities.
The establishment and operation of the TPP exacerbates the criminalization of poverty and permits the recurrent displacement of people who rely on public space. Complainants call on the Vancouver Police Board and VPD to dismantle the program immediately.