By Corey Larocque

Ottawa police are coming under fire for so-called "carding" practices even though a recently released report shows they made 4,405 street-checks in 2014, compared to 8,240 in 2010.

While a critic says the controversial practice unfairly singles people out based on their race, Acting Insp. Mark Patterson says street checks are still a valuable crime-fighting tool.

"These street checks are an asset. It is a huge tool to us in terms of investigating and solving crimes," said Patterson, who wrote a report on how they've been used since 2010.

Also known as "carding," a street check is when police record information about people they meet on the street -- including their race -- and file it away, hoping it might be helpful in a future investigation.

But lawyer and civil liberties advocate Paul Champ said it's "shocking" how disproportionately blacks and Middle Eastern people are street-checked.

In Ottawa, blacks account for 5% of the population but made up 20% of the people street-checked over the past five years. Middle Eastern people make up 3% of the population, but accounted for 14% of street checks.

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