No Means No: A Crime Hump Vignette
She pulled into her driveway. Everything seemed normal. She heard the van coming up the street. She didn’t think anything of it. It was just as mundane a street as the day had been. Nothing seemed unusual. Nothing out of place. Her grandson was in the backseat. She felt safe. She felt he was safe. The van pulled up behind them. The new stranger that was now parked on her property exited the van. She rolled down her window to inquire as to why this stranger was here.
“Are you this boy’s grandma?” The stranger asks, mentioning the boy by his full name. Panic sets in, but only for a second. Then logic kicks in. This could be danger. She calms herself and thinks rationally. Who is this person? How do they know his name? How do they know where I live? What’s about to happen? She begins to think of where this information may be recorded.
The stranger begins speaking about the boy's mother.
“He’s in the back seat!” she yells, horrified.
“I know,” the stranger replies. She yells even louder,
“He’s in the back seat! Get away from me!” The yelling and commotion scares the stranger away. She takes the boy into the house, where she hopes to feel safe again. She hopes he will feel safe again too. The van drives away.
Startled, she goes to the local police station to report the incident. She thinks again about how this stranger obtained her personal information. She thinks about school records.
“It’s the only way.” She explains to Constable Rodcocker, who was a bearded, striking man. Dimples however, don’t always reflect good character. He says the stranger is allowed what ever records they want, without consent or a warrant. He goes on to say this can include anything from children's school records, to files from family services, documents the privacy commissioner can’t even access.
So who was this stranger exactly? The card said she was a sheriff. A sheriff in Ontario serves legal processes and executes civil judgements. The police in this case had also said they are allowed access to whatever documents they need in order to obtain the address of the person requiring service. However, the grandmother referenced above was not the one who required service and the intended recipient didn’t live there either. This server knowingly read out a list of adult issues in front of a child who, it would be reasonable to assume, could be impacted. The child suffered emotional harm.
This story has a glaring resemblance to a similar experience I had being served legal documents last year. The server walked around my property and peaked into the windows. He even stood on top of our recycling box to get a better look inside. He would not leave until my husband yelled out that he would call the police if he did not leave immediately. This scared our kids too.
Are these types of tactics actually legal? Are they allowed unfettered access to our personal records and that of our children? If not, is there any reasonable way to hold those responsible, accountable to actions that hurt people, especially kids? The line between harassment and performing a duty should not be so thin. If someone is refusing service or otherwise not accepting documents, these servers should vacate the premises immediately. No means no.