In December, the Toronto Police Services launched a vulnerable persons registry for autistic and otherwise neurodivergent persons. So naturally, as an autistic self advocate, I wanted to find out what this was about. My review is mixed. (Note screenshots are not fully accessable).
This description of what the registry is for sounds a lot like predictive policing, stereotyping that neurodivergent persons are “violent”, and could potentially be used as police profiling.
I like that it seems to allow the vulnerable person to fill this out themself, according to this page. However, the “advantage of important context about any behaviours” sound like predictive policing. The person may also behave differently than on the form, thus creating confusion for the police. A lot of this information is also very personal. Additionally, the registry form is run by a third party corporation.
This seems like this could be the fill out yourself form if you are the vulnerable person, until one gets to “relationship to vulnerable person”. Upon further investigation, I realized this page was for the support person, not the vulnerable person themself. The page should be titled “support person profile”.
No option is given for “Myself”.
I like that that there are more than just two gender options, though I do not think this should be a mandatory field.
This “incident report” section is really confusing. Is this form for missing persons, or former missing persons? This, again, could be used as police profiling and predictive policing. The incident report could potentially put people at risk of being on no fly lists due to misunderstandings about what neurological conditions are. They also exclude persons who have never been in an “incident”.
This vulnerable persons profile page has a fill out yourself option under “involvement”. However, all the information on this page is mandated, despite the fact only a few items have an asterisk. Much of this information is far too private and personal to share with police. None of these items should be mandatory fields, as a person should have a right as to how much or how little information about themself is shared. Additionally, autism is not a life threatening condition.
There are viable alternatives to vulnerable persons registries. Child Find Saskatchewan has paper booklets that can be mail ordered for free. The “youth” one is also suitable for adults. They also have a crisis line that anyone of any age can call if they are at risk.
And, in the UK, there are online forms that can be filled out if a person is actually missing.
And, to summarize this report, here is an email I replied to the Toronto Police Service in response to their rejection of my online submission to the autism registry, along with their original email (with personal contacts removed).
Thank you so much for rejecting this report! I am autistic, and I only signed myself because it was the only way to see what the registry looked like. As an autistic person, I really need to see what something looks like ahead of time, an option which was not given. I never wanted to be on the registry, as I do not personally believe in these registries.
I deliberately did not fill out the fields that got my form rejected, because, a:, there was no asterisk beside them, and b:, they seemed too private, and I did not want to register this information with the police.
Autistic and neurodivergent people are not the only vulnerable persons in Toronto. Autism is not a life threatening condition in of itself.
The suicidality comes from lack of acceptance. Epilepsy is different from autism, yet can be a dual diagnosis.
I do like that there are different gender options, and one can fill it out oneself. However, the fill out yourself is dubious when, on one of the forms, it asks what relationship there is to the vulnerable person. “Myself” is not one of the options.
The form is confusing, as it has a mandatory incident report. It is unclear whether this is for people who have gone missing in the past, or are currently missing. What if a person who has never gone missing wants to put them self on the registry?
My major concerns are the registry can be used as predictive policing, they are not fully voluntary, and information can be hacked. There have also been cases of previously suicidal people on registries being barred from travel, even though they have committed no crime.
The current registry can only be printed out after registration. I would prefer a printable blank form that one can fill out solely on paper, and only hand to police if the person is actively missing.
I would also like the vulnerable persons registry, which is a form of police profiling of neurodivergent persons, with an online form that is for reporting actively missing persons. This file would be deleted once the person is found.
Were autistic people consulted on this new registry?
Here is an updated version of the article I wrote on respectful reporting.
Please keep in touch on any more details regarding the vulnerable persons registry, and any other autism related information.
And here is the original rejection email from the Toronto Police Service.
We’re sorry the following problem was found during review of your submitted report.
Your online Vulnerable Person Registry report was incomplete and has been REJECTED because you failed to provide the necessary information required (for example: Method of Communication, Identification Worn (ie: MedicAlert bracelet), Favourite attractions and Locations Where Person may be Found, Method of approach that would make them most comfortable when dealing with police, Methods or Approaches to be Avoided, Life Threatening Medical Concern, Medications, Physician, Known or Diagnosed Condition(s), Name of Hospital or Institution, etc).
Toronto Police Service
And here is the original form email I received from the Toronto Police Service.
Your Vulnerable Person Registry Report has been successfully received and the temporary report number is ******. Once your report is approved, it will be issued a permanent General Occurrence number and you will receive a PDF copy. You will also be notified through email if there are any discrepancies with your report.
As your report involves personal information it is important that we confirm your authority to submit it:
1) If the Vulnerable Person information you have provided is about yourself, please contact the CISU at your local Toronto Police Service Division and arrange to verify your identity.
2) If you have provided information about another person who you provide care for please contact the CISU at your local Toronto Police Service Division and arrange to verify your identity and provide legal documentation that shows that you have parental or legal authority for that individual.
To locate your Toronto Police Service Division – go to link http://www.torontopolice.on.ca/uniform.php
It will be required that you provide photo identification for yourself and, if applicable, any supporting documents such as Birth Certificates or Power of Attorney forms for the vulnerable person who you care for. In some cases, at the discretion of the Officer reviewing this information, the verification process may need to be performed in person at a Police Division.
**This information will not be made available to Officers until after you have verified your authority to submit it. If you have not confirmed your authority within seven (7) days to confirm the record will be deleted from our system.**
This information will remain in the Toronto Police Service records management system for two years from the date it is entered. If, at any time you wish to update or cancel the record you can do so by submitting a SUPPLEMENTAL REPORT referencing the General Occurrence number you were initially provided with.
Thank you for using our Vulnerable Person Registry Online Reporting System.