By Kelly Bennett, CBC

Cities across southern Ontario are debating a controversial tool police use to solve and prevent crimes. It's called "carding" in Toronto and "street checks" elsewhere. The practice is a means of documenting interactions police officers have with people on the street who may not be under investigation or witness to a crime, and then logging that information in a database.!/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/16x9_620/sandra-wilson-hamilton-police-service-community-relations.jpg

In Hamilton, the discussion heads to an oversight board meeting for the Hamilton Police this Thursday. A representative of an anti-racism activism group called "Black, Brown, Red Lives Matter" will call for more clarity about street checks and raise concerns about the potential for police racial bias in determining whom to stop and question.

Elsewhere in the province, mayors and police chiefs have been weighing in on the practice of "carding or "street checks". But to this point in Hamilton, activists and a councillor have been the loudest voices in the conversation. How important a tool is it? Police statistics show in Hamilton there are 10 to 15 street checks daily.

Police rely on these contacts and conversations, which they say are not done randomly, to proactively lead them to answers on crimes nearby. Critics of the practice say it infringes on citizens' rights to privacy and may impact certain people, like visible minorities, more than others.

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