Kelly Bennett, CBC News

Black people are stopped, questioned and documented in police street checks at a disproportionate rate compared to the population in Hamilton, police statistics presented Thursday show.

And the information recorded in all such stops is kept indefinitely in a police database.

In Hamilton, 11 to 14 per cent of the police street checks were done on black people over the last five years. But only three per cent of the population of Hamilton is black, according to the 2011 Census.

In the police statistics, 75 to 80 percent of the street checks every year were done on white people — a finding that Chief Glenn De Caire and board chair Lloyd Ferguson cited as proof the service has no problem with racial bias.

But when compared with the percentage of Hamilton's population that is visible minorities, the numbers showed a disproportionate impact.

The findings came as part of a report to the police's oversight board, responding to concerns raised that the practice is racially skewed and an infringement on privacy rights.

Deputy Chief Eric Girt presented information to the board about its street checks, commonly called carding in Toronto.

Girt defined "street checks" as "police engaging with the community members for investigative purposes" and said they work: Information gathered in street checks is helping to solve a current homicide investigation, he said.

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