Blue Line

Poll finds vast majority support for police oversight board

August 22, 2022  By Peter Jackson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Aug. 22, 2022, St. John’s, Nfld. – A new poll commissioned by First Voice has found overwhelming support among respondents for a civilian-led police oversight board in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The poll, conducted by MQO research, follows on the heels of a draft report released last month by the First Voice Working Group on Police Oversight which cites the creation of a such a board as one of its key proposals for change. That same report also includes proposals for strengthening and streamlining the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Public Complaints Commission and the provincial Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT-NL), with a view toward improving confidence in both.

Nearly nine out of 10 respondents (88 per cent) said they support the idea, with a majority (52 per cent) saying they “strongly support” it. Support is consistently high across all key demographics, including age, gender and sexual identities, racial identities, voting intentions and geographic regions.

“There are few public policy ideas that enjoy such broad-based support,” Caitlin Urquhart, co-chair of the working group, said in a release. “That the creation of a civilian-led police oversight board has such decisive public support shows this is an idea that resonates well beyond the urban Indigenous community. It’s now up to the provincial government to say where it stands.”

Other questions found a division among respondents when it came to faith in the current police structure.

About half felt that police officers are “held to the same standards of justice as everyone else,” with a majority of LGBTQ+ respondents (52 per cent) disagreeing with that suggestion.

A minority of respondents (40 per cent) indicated they trust the kind of self-investigative structure that is used by the RNC Public Complaints Commission and SIRT-NL.

A question about provincial voting preference also found the Conservatives and Liberals in a dead heat at 21 and 20 per cent, respectively. The NDP were at nine per cent, while 38 per cent were undecided. More than 10 per cent either did not respond or said they would not vote.

The poll was conducted by phone from July 25-31, and has a margin of error of 5.13 (19 times out of 20).

First Voice, an urban Indigenous coalition, is looking for feedback from all interested parties before unveiling its final report in the fall.

– The Telegram

Print this page


Stories continue below