Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press The mayor of Quebec, Bruno Marchand (seen here in December at the National Assembly), who has championed help for the homeless since entering politics, reiterated that there was no no “instructions to issue statements of offense”.
Isabelle Porter in Quebec
- Quebec City
The mayor of Quebec, Bruno Marchand, believes that his police officers have nothing to reproach themselves regarding the tickets given to homeless people for possession of syringes reported by The Homework Thursday morning.
“Our police officers must be able, in a situation that they consider dangerous, to remove something that would be dangerous for the person themselves or the people around them,” the mayor declared Thursday afternoon. “A syringe could be something dangerous. »
Between 2013 and 2022, no less than 252 tickets were issued for possession of “drug consumption equipment[s]” by the Quebec City Police Department, reported Le Devoir.
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A practice deemed counterproductive by the director of the Profiling Observatory of the University of Montreal, Céline Bellot, who has just published a study on the subject, since this material is distributed free of charge by health authorities to prevent certain diseases .
Ms. Bellot was all the more surprised by these results as she has been documenting the judicialization of homeless people in many cities for years and this is the first time she has seen this type of regulation applied.
In front of the media, Mayor Marchand said that the police needed a “multitude of tools” to intervene with people experiencing homelessness and that he “trusted” them to judge appropriate means.
However, he committed to re-examining his administration's ways of doing things on this subject. “When I look at the findings made by the researchers, it certainly concerns me. We will definitely look at our practices to see what we can do differently. I'm going to ask my legal department what we can do differently. »
No instructions to issue reports of infractions
Beyond the confiscation of equipment such as syringes, the study by Céline Bellot's team reports an “alarming increase”, between 2000 and 2021, in the number of reports of offense handed out to homeless people each year. Thus, from 71 in 2000, this number increased to 1577 in 2021, which corresponds to a multiplication by 22.
The most common reasons for arrest are drunkenness or consumption of alcohol in public spaces, as well as loitering.
Mr. Marchand, who has championed help for the homeless since entering politics, reiterated that there was no “instruction to issue tickets.”
He also does not see in these data proof that his city resorts to too much repression. “The number of findings also reflects a capacity to intervene that we did not have before,” he said. The mayor also mentioned that in addition to helping the homeless, the City also had the objective of making places safe for everyone. »
Joined by Le Devoir, the Quebec City Police Service (SPVQ) emphasizes that the number of people experiencing homelessness in Quebec has increased significantly in recent years and that it “takes seriously” everything related to this.
Its spokesperson, William Robitaille, added that the use of syringes in public spaces can “be disturbing for certain citizens” and that the police intervene in the majority of cases following complaints.
“Judicialization,” he added, is not “the first option” and the police first try to “redirect people to resources.”