FAQs

 

General FAQ about IIO

What is the IIO and what does it investigate?

The IIO is a civilian-led investigatory body established in response to recommendations arising out of public inquiries led by Justices Braidwood and Davies.  These inquiries highlighted the need for increased public confidence in police oversight, accountability and transparency in BC policing.

The IIO is responsible for conducting investigations into all officer-related incidents that result in death or “serious harm” as defined in Part 11 of the Police Act, within the province of British Columbia. The Chief Civilian Director (CCD) of the IIO is required to review all investigations upon their conclusion, in order to determine whether he “considers that an officer may have committed an offence under any enactment, including an enactment of Canada or another province” per s.38.11 of the Police Act.

The CCD is responsible for the management, administration and operation of the IIO.  He may appoint anyone with investigative experience to be an IIO Investigator provided that person has not served as a police officer in BC within five years.

When did the IIO open?

The IIO officially became operational on September 10, 2012.

How many staff does the IIO have?

The official FTE count is 52.  Approximately 24 are investigative personnel and 28 are corporate and support staff.

How many IIO Investigators are former police officers?

As of June 1, 2017:

  • Of the 28 investigative positions that are filled; 14 are former police officers (50%)

What is the difference between the IIO and the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner?

The IIO conducts investigations into on and off duty police related incidents of death and serious harm.  The IIO does not investigate complaints of misconduct.  Investigation and review of complaints made against municipal police officers remain the responsibility of the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner.  Complaints made against members of the RCMP are the responsibility of the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission: http://www.crcc-ccetp.gc.ca/

How will the IIO investigate scenes of incidents?

The IIO office is located in Surrey, however IIO Investigators will travel to any location in BC to complete an investigation. It is expected that witnesses will be interviewed by IIO Investigators.

When does the IIO use police forensic services?

The IIO does not have the stand-alone forensic capability necessary to process a significant scene and maintain the integrity of evidence collected by forensic personnel.  Instead, the IIO has created a team of forensic experts who monitor and review the work of police forensic personnel to ensure that scene processing and evidence collection is according to best practices and will be in accord with expectations of Crown counsel and the courts.  IIO investigators take possession of evidence that is relevant to an IIO investigation and is capable of being stored in the IIO exhibit room.  Evidence that is wet or of a prohibitive size may be stored in secure locations by the involved agency at the request of the IIO.

When will IIO use police facilities to during an IIO investigation?

Although the IIO recognizes the need to ensure the public is aware that it is independent from all other police services in the province, there are times in which IIO investigators will make use of police facilities in order to ensure a timely, competent investigation.  Specifically, the IIO may use a police facility to interview police witnesses when that facility is readily available and convenient for interview purposes.  The IIO will always seek to interview civilian witnesses at a neutral location, however, if there is no objection by a witness to an interview being conducted at a police facility and that facility is convenient, and readily available at no cost, such facility may be used to conduct the interview.  The IIO office, located in Surrey, is often not a convenient location for civilian witnesses.  Police facilities, which are located throughout the province, tend to be more readily available and convenient to conduct interviews in particular, those that take place outside of normal business hours.

Under what circumstances will the IIO use police transportation?

The IIO is committed to a timely response to all incident scenes given the resources available to its investigators.  As such, the IIO, upon notification of an incident, will determine the means of transportation that will ensure the timeliest response possible.  If an incident takes place outside of the Lower Mainland, the IIO may use transportation available from the RCMP or another police agency, to include airplanes and boats that are readily available at no cost.

When will IIO release information on a particular incident?

The IIO is committed to ensuring fair, unbiased investigations and appropriate decision-making relating to each case falling within its jurisdiction.  As such, the IIO will not, during the course of an investigation, make any public statement about the investigation unless such statement is aimed at preserving the integrity of the investigation.  The IIO is committed to ensuring that at the completion of any investigation, the public has the information necessary to determine whether the IIO investigation was thorough and complete and the Chief Civilian Director’s decision relating to any case that is not forwarded to Crown Counsel for prosecution is reasonable.  As such, the IIO will issue public reports, at the earliest available opportunity upon the conclusion of an investigation, to ensure transparency in investigations.  Until an IIO investigation is complete, however, information specific to any case investigation will be limited in its production to the public or the media.

What happens at the end of an IIO investigation?

If the CCD concludes that an officer may have committed an offence, he is required to report the matter to Crown counsel. If he does not make a report to Crown counsel, he is permitted by s.38.121 of the Police Act to publicly report the reasoning underlying his decision.

In his public report, the CCD may include a summary of circumstances that led to the IIO asserting jurisdiction; a description of the resources that the IIO deployed; a statement indicating that the IIO, after concluding the investigation, has reported the matter to Crown counsel; or a summary of the results of the investigation if the matter has not been reported to Crown.

He is only permitted to disclose personal information about an officer, an affected person, a witness or any other person who may have been involved if the public interest in disclosure outweighs the privacy interests of the person. Prior to disclosing any personal information, he is required, if practicable, to notify the person to whom the information relates, and further, notify and consider any comments provided by the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

Will the IIO name names?

In its public reports, the IIO will provide the names of involved officers and affected persons only when those names have either already been made available to the public or where, because of the legal necessity of a Coroner’s inquest, such names will clearly be made public at the time of the inquest.  Under those circumstances, the IIO will consult with and take advice from the Information and Privacy Commissioner. In all other circumstances, the IIO will not disclose the names of the involved parties in order to protect such person’s privacy interests.

Who actually determines if an officer will be charged?

BC is one of two provinces where Crown counsel assesses information and decides whether or not to lay a charge.

What is the difference between Crown counsel’s charging standard and the Chief Civilian Director’s statutory referral standard?

Under the provisions of Section 38.11 of the Police Act, the Chief Civilian Director is required to report a matter to the Criminal Justice Branch if, after an investigation, the Chief Civilian Director considers that an officer may have committed an offence.

The Chief Civilian Director does not make a recommendation on whether charges should be approved or what charges Crown counsel should consider. Under the Crown Counsel Act, the Criminal Justice Branch has jurisdiction over the charge assessment and charge approval process. In approving charges, the Criminal Justice Branch must be satisfied not only that an offence may have been committed, but that the commission of an offence can be proven in court beyond a reasonable doubt. Criminal Justice Branch policy provides that in making this assessment Crown counsel will apply a two-part test:

  1. there must be a substantial likelihood of conviction based on the evidence gathered by the investigating agency; and
  2. a prosecution must be required in the public interest

Will the IIO ever take on historical cases?

Given the provisions of the Police Act, it is unlikely that historical cases will be re-investigated by the IIO.

What support can people expect if they find themselves involved in an IIO investigation?

People affected by an IIO investigation can expect to receive support and information from the investigators assigned to the case.  In addition, the IIO has a specially trained Manager who is responsible for services to affected persons. This could include referral for counseling, mediation, linkages to community resources and assessment.

Where can I learn more about the IIO?

Additional information may be found on the IIO website at www.iiobc.ca.  All employment opportunities for the IIO are posted to the BC Employment website. Please check back regularly.


 

FAQ For Police Agencies Involved in an IIO Investigation

What is the IIO and what does it investigate?

The IIO is a civilian-led agency that conducts investigations into all officer-related incidents that result in death or “serious harm” as defined in Part 11 of the Police Act, within the province of British Columbia. The IIO has jurisdiction over officers employed by the RCMP, Municipal Police, Transit Police, Special Provincial Constables and Tribal Police. IIO jurisdiction includes critical incidents occurring both on and off duty.

How many cases have been investigated so far?

As of February 2017, 131 cases have been concluded.  The IIO website contains the full listing of cases referred to Crown Counsel as well as those concluded by public report.

Does the IIO investigate members of the public?

No. The IIO only has jurisdiction to investigate police officers and on-duty Special Provincial Constables. Local police retain responsibility for any investigation into the alleged actions of the person who was injured during the incident with police. This individual is referred to as the “affected person” in the IIO investigation.

Why use the term affected person?

Many of the individuals involved in an IIO investigation are “suspects” in police concurrent investigations. Rather than use the terms suspect or victim, the IIO believes that more neutral language is consistent with its mandate to conduct fair and unbiased investigations.

What happens at the end of an IIO investigation?

The Chief Civilian Director (CCD) of the IIO reviews all investigations upon their conclusion, in order to determine whether “an officer may have committed an offence under any enactment, including an enactment of Canada or another province” per s.38.11 of the Police Act.

If the CCD concludes that an officer may have committed an offence, the matter is reported to Crown Counsel. If a report to Crown Counsel is not made, the CCD is permitted by s.38.121 of the Police Act to publicly report the reasoning underlying the decision.

How does the CCD’s standard of referral compare to police agency standards of referral to the Criminal Justice Branch?

The CCD’s standard of referral to Crown Counsel is lower than the traditional referral standard for police agencies in British Columbia. This is because the CCD is required to send a file to Crown in every case that has concluded where the CCD deems that an officer may have committed an offence, even if the CCD does not believe that there is a reasonable possibility of conviction. The CCD does not make a recommendation to lay charges.

How many IIO Investigators are former police officers?

As June 1, 2017, approximately 50 percent of IIO investigators are former police officers. Those without policing backgrounds have significant experience in a wide variety of investigative, regulatory and enforcement agencies. The IIO is under a government mandated goal to have an “office that is staffed entirely with employees and IIO investigators who have never served as officers or members of a police or law enforcement agency.” (See Part 7.1, Section 38.13 of the Police Act). No specific goals have been mandated as to the timing of the civilianization of the IIO.

What is the difference between the IIO and other agencies that investigate police?

The IIO conducts investigations into on and off duty police related critical incidents of death and serious harm. The IIO does not investigate complaints of misconduct. Investigation and review of complaints made against municipal police officers remain the responsibility of the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC). Complaints made against members of the RCMP are the responsibility of the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRC).

If I am investigated by the IIO, how and when will I know the results of the investigation?

Once an IIO investigation is complete and a decision whether or not to forward the file to Crown Counsel has been made, affected persons, Subject Officers, police command staff and other relevant stakeholders (for example, the Coroner’s Service, the OPCC and/or the CRCC) are notified, in writing, prior to the findings being made public.

The IIO will use a similar protocol for communicating other important decisions such as when a public report will be issued; when Crown has made the charge approval decision and when a Clear Statement (prepared by the Criminal Justice Branch) is being released to the public.

How will the IIO investigate scenes of incidents?

IIO Investigators will travel to any location in BC to complete an investigation. In most cases, the general scene examination will be done by the involved police service but will be monitored by the IIO. It is expected that witnesses will be interviewed by IIO Investigators.

At scenes where the IIO are the only or primary investigative body, they will set priorities and direction to ensure maximizing of evidential opportunities. In circumstances where there are concurrent or parallel investigations, both agencies will consult on priorities to achieve maximum effectiveness.

What are my responsibilities at the scene of an IIO investigation?

Pursuant to the Police Act (Part 7.1, Section 38.09), “officers at the scene must take any lawful measures that appear to the officers to be necessary or expedient for the purpose of obtaining and preserving evidence relating to the matter.” As such, officers at the scene are required to collect evidence that would otherwise be lost prior to the IIO’s arrival at the scene. Any such acts must be documented and communicated to the IIO at the earliest possible time.

What evidence will be seized?

If you are identified as a Subject Officer (an officer whose presence, action or decision is reasonably believed to have caused death or “serious harm” (as defined in the Police Act), you will be required to surrender any police-issued equipment that may have been in your possession at the time of the incident. You may be asked to allow yourself to be photographed in order to establish your appearance at the time of and immediately subsequent to the incident.

Witness Officers (an officer involved in or present during the incident, who is not a Subject Officer) are required to cooperate with the IIO and may also be required to surrender items in possession at the time of the incident. This may include personal property where there is potential evidence, particularly in fatal incidents. Any personal property will be processed efficiently and returned as soon as practicable.

What is a Liaison Officer (LO)?

After the IIO asserts jurisdiction over an incident, the involved police service will designate an officer, who is not an involved officer, to act as liaison with the IIO. The LO is expected to be a supervisor who has immediate access to the scene and to all officers whose cooperation may be needed during the course of the IIO investigation.

What is meant when the IIO “asserts jurisdiction”?

Whenever the IIO is notified of a critical incident, the IIO has jurisdiction.  There are times when the IIO on-call Director may recommend the CCD decline jurisdiction based on the information received by the police agency. In other circumstances, the IIO may conduct a preliminary investigation to confirm if the incident meets the two part test for sustaining jurisdiction – confirmed death or serious harm as defined AND a nexus or relationship between the injury and an officer’s actions.

If the preliminary investigation confirms death/serious harm and nexus, the IIO will sustain jurisdiction. If not, the CCD will release jurisdiction and will take no further action.

What are my rights as a Subject Officer?

Subject Officers are officers who face jeopardy as a result of a critical incident and the subsequent IIO investigation. Like any other person in Canada who faces jeopardy, Subject Officers have rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that includes the right to silence.

IIO investigators will communicate any requests of Subject Officers either verbally or in writing. Where represented by legal counsel, the request will be provided to the lawyer.

What are my rights as a Witness Officer?

Under the Police Act, Witness Officers are compelled to cooperate with an IIO investigation. This will generally include participating in an interview and submitting notes, documents, etc. for review by the IIO in the course of its investigation. A Witness Officer may also be required to assist in a reconstruction of the incident. No information provided by a witness officer can be used against that officer in criminal or civil court.

Does the IIO handle media relations?

Yes. A police agency may advise the media that an incident has occurred and that the IIO has been notified. Only the IIO may address the media about IIO investigations. It is protocol for IIO media relations to consult with police agency media relations and vice versa prior to either party issuing new releases.

Does the IIO release the names of police officers it investigates?

A police officer’s name will generally not be released to the public, except:

  1. If the police officer is criminally charged, the Criminal Justice Branch will release the name of the police officer
  2. If the police officer is involved in a fatality which is brought to a coroner’s inquest, the police officer’s name will be made public during that process
  3. If the police officer’s name has been previously publicly released and keeping the officer’s name confidential would serve no useful purpose (after consultation with the Privacy Commissioner).

Does the IIO use police forensic and collision reconstruction resources?

Yes. The IIO does not have the stand-alone forensic capability necessary to process a significant scene and maintain the integrity of evidence collected by forensic personnel. Instead, the IIO has a team of specialists (forensic investigators and collision reconstructionists) who monitor and review the work of police forensic personnel to ensure that scene processing and evidence collection is according to best practices.

Investigators from the IIO speciality team will attend scenes of critical incidents and ensure that IIO priorities are achieved. This will involve working with police resources where there is a concurrent investigation. The importance of maintaining independence and impartiality is at the forefront of their scene deployments.

When will IIO release information on a particular incident?

The IIO is committed to ensuring fair, unbiased investigations relating to each case falling within its jurisdiction. As such, the IIO will not, during the course of an investigation, make any public statement about the investigation unless such statement is aimed at preserving the integrity of the investigation or is required to ensure public confidence in police oversight. The IIO is committed to ensuring that, at the completion of any investigation, the public has the information necessary to determine whether the IIO investigation was thorough and complete, and the CCD’s decision relating to any case that is not forwarded to Crown Counsel for prosecution is reasonable. As such, the IIO will issue public reports, at the earliest available opportunity upon the conclusion of an investigation, to ensure transparency in investigations. Until an IIO investigation is complete, however, information specific to any case investigation will be limited in its production to the public or the media.

Who actually determines if an officer will be charged?

Crown Counsel makes charge approval decisions in British Columbia. The CCD does not make any recommendations in that regard.

What is the difference between Crown Counsel’s charging standard and the IIO’s statutory referral standard?

Under the provisions of Section 38.11 of the Police Act, the Chief Civilian Director is required to report a matter to the Criminal Justice Branch if, after an investigation, the Chief Civilian Director considers that an officer may have committed an offence.

The Chief Civilian Director does not make a recommendation on whether charges should be approved or what charges Crown Counsel should consider. Under the Crown Counsel Act, the Criminal Justice Branch has jurisdiction over the charge assessment and charge approval process. In approving charges, the Criminal Justice Branch must generally be satisfied not only that an offence may have been committed, but that the commission of an offence can be proven in court beyond a reasonable doubt. Criminal Justice Branch policy provides that in making this assessment Crown Counsel will apply a two-part test:

  1. there must be a substantial likelihood of conviction based on the evidence gathered by the investigating agency; and,
  2. a prosecution must be required in the public interest.

When will the IIO require my personal information, such as my date of birth?

If the CCD determines that a file must be referred to Crown Counsel, the IIO must obtain the dates of birth of any Subject Officers to populate within the JUSTIN database.

Who at Crown Counsel is responsible for IIO files?

The Appeals and Special Prosecutions Section of Crown Counsel reviews all IIO files in order to determine whether charges should be laid.

How long does it take to investigate (or resolve) an IIO incident?

There is no specific time frame that can be established for any investigation. Each incident is unique and the amount of time it will take to complete an investigation will depend on many factors including the size and location of the scene; the number of involved officers; the number of other witnesses; the need for and dependence on specialized reports; and, third party expert opinion.

How can we see what progress has been made on a file?

At any point during an investigation, officers should be encouraged to contact the IIO to obtain an update on their file.

Once an investigation is complete and if it is forwarded to Crown Counsel for further consideration, it can take some time for Crown Counsel to make a charging decision.

If Crown Counsel decides not to approve charges, the Criminal Justice Branch will issue a “Clear Statement” that provides a brief chronology of the evidence and the rationale for the decision.

If the CCD does not send the file to Crown, a public report is typically prepared and issued within 30 days of that decision being made.

 


 

FAQ For Affected Persons Involved in an IIO Investigation

What is the IIO and what does it investigate?

The IIO is a civilian-led agency that conducts investigations into all officer-related incidents that result in death or “serious harm” as defined in Part 11 of the Police Act, within the province of British Columbia. The IIO has jurisdiction over officers employed by the RCMP, Municipal Police, Transit Police, Special Provincial Constables and Tribal Police. IIO jurisdiction includes critical incidents occurring both on and off duty.

What is an affected person?

An affected person is someone who is directly impacted by the incident. In cases where a person has died as a result of an officer-related incident, the next of kin and family are typically considered affected persons as well.

Why use the term affected person?

Many of the individuals involved in an IIO investigation are “suspects” in police concurrent investigations. Rather than use the terms suspect or victim, the IIO believes that more neutral language is consistent with its mandate to conduct fair and unbiased investigations.

What does serious harm mean?

Serious harm is defined by the Police Act and includes any injury that may result in death; may cause serious disfigurement or may cause substantial loss or impairment of mobility of the body as a whole or of the function of any limb or organ.

Does serious harm include emotional harm?

At this point in time, the definition does not include emotional harm and is limited to physical injury.

How do you establish serious harm?

Serious harm is ordinarily determined by reviewing an affected person’s medical records. Unless serious harm can be confirmed by the information reported to the IIO, an Investigator will likely meet with an affected person and request consent to the release of medical records. This is an important aspect of the IIO investigation.

How many cases have been investigated so far?

As of June 2017 143 cases have been concluded. The IIO website contains the full listing of cases referred to Crown Counsel as well as those concluded by public report.

Does the IIO investigate members of the public?

No. The IIO only has jurisdiction to investigate police officers and on-duty Special Provincial Constables. Local police retain responsibility for any investigation into the alleged actions of the person who was injured during the incident with police. This individual is referred to as the “affected person” in the IIO investigation.

If I am a witness to an incident, am I considered an affected person?

While you would not be considered an affected person, it is quite possible that you may be impacted by an incident and the IIO investigation. The IIO Manager for Services to Affected Persons is available to speak with you and help you access services in your community.

What does the Manager of Services to Affected Persons do?

This is a fulltime dedicated IIO member who is the bridge between an affected person (and families) and the IIO investigative team. Typically, this person will have a background in social work and have experience working with vulnerable persons who come to the attention of the police.

The Manager assists those involved in an incident by explaining the role of the IIO and the investigative process; interpreting legislation; discussing how the various investigative agencies work together; facilitating access to support services in the community; and, acting as a liaison through the life of the file.

The Manager will provide updates on the status of the investigation as well as provide notification when the case decision has been made – either to send the file to Crown Counsel or to conclude with a public report.

Is an affected person required to cooperate with the IIO?

An affected person is not compelled to cooperate; however, the IIO often depends on the information that at times only an affected person can provide.

Will the information an affected person provides be used against them?

An affected person sometimes is the subject of a concurrent or parallel investigation with the police. An affected person may face jeopardy. IIO investigators will advise an affected person of this prior to taking a statement. The focus on the statement is on what happened in the interaction with police NOT on any potential criminal conduct committed by an affected person. With this in mind, an affected person should be aware that IIO file material may be disclosed to the involved police agency and as such, their information may become available to the police.

What happens at the end of an IIO investigation?

The Chief Civilian Director (CCD) of the IIO reviews all investigations upon their conclusion, in order to determine whether “an officer may have committed an offence under any enactment, including an enactment of Canada or another province” per s.38.11 of the Police Act.

If the CCD concludes that an officer may have committed an offence, the matter is reported to Crown Counsel. If a report to Crown Counsel is not made, the CCD is permitted by s.38.121 of the Police Act to publicly report the reasoning underlying the decision.

Will the IIO seize an affected person’s personal belongings?

Yes, it is possible that personal belongings will be considered evidence and will be seized. The IIO will process such evidence as efficiently as possible and return it as soon as it no longer has evidentiary value.

How does the CCD’s standard of referral compare to police agency standards of referral to the Criminal Justice Branch?

The CCD’s standard of referral to Crown Counsel is lower than the traditional referral standard for police agencies in British Columbia. This is because the CCD is required to send a file to Crown in every case that has concluded where the CCD deems that an officer may have committed an offence, even if the CCD does not believe that there is a reasonable possibility of conviction. The CCD does not make a recommendation to lay charges.

How many IIO Investigators are former police officers?

As June 1, 2017, approximately 50 percent of IIO investigators are former police officers. Those without policing backgrounds have significant experience in a wide variety of investigative, regulatory and enforcement agencies. The IIO is under a government mandated goal to have an “office that is staffed entirely with employees and IIO investigators who have never served as officers or members of a police or law enforcement agency.” (See Part 7.1, Section 38.13 of the Police Act). No specific goals have been mandated as to the timing of the civilianization of the IIO.

What is the difference between the IIO and other agencies that investigate police?

The IIO conducts investigations into on and off duty police related critical incidents of death and serious harm. The IIO does not investigate complaints of misconduct. Investigation and review of complaints made against municipal police officers remain the responsibility of the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC). Complaints made against members of the RCMP are the responsibility of the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC).

How will the IIO investigate scenes of incidents?

IIO Investigators will travel to any location in BC to complete an investigation. In most cases, the general scene examination will be done by the involved police service but will be monitored by the IIO. It is expected that witnesses will be interviewed by IIO Investigators unless exigent circumstances exist which require police involvement to ensure evidence is not lost and timely interviews are conducted.

At scenes where the IIO are the only or primary investigative body, they will set priorities and direction to ensure maximizing of evidential opportunities. In circumstances where there are concurrent or parallel investigations, both agencies will consult on priorities to achieve maximum effectiveness.

What is meant when the IIO states it is “asserting jurisdiction”?

Whenever the IIO is notified of a critical incident, the IIO has jurisdiction. There are times when the IIO on-call Director may recommend that the Chief Civilian Director (CCD) decline jurisdiction based on the information received by the police agency. In other circumstances, the IIO may conduct a preliminary investigation to confirm if the incident meets the two part test for sustaining jurisdiction – confirmed death or serious harm as defined AND a nexus or relationship between the injury and an officer’s actions.

If the preliminary investigation confirms death/serious harm and nexus, the IIO will sustain jurisdiction. If not, the CCD will release jurisdiction and will take no further action.

Does the IIO handle media relations?

Yes. A police agency may advise the media that an incident has occurred and that the IIO has been notified. Only the IIO may address the media about IIO investigations. It is protocol for IIO media relations to consult with police agency media relations and vice versa prior to either party issuing new releases.

What should an affected person do if they are contacted by the media?

An affected person and/or their family will need to make a personal decision about contact with the media. Some families have found the following resource helpful:

Will the IIO release the name of an affected person to the public?

No, the IIO typically does not release the name of an affected person. If Crown Counsel approves a charge, an affected person’s name will be released by the Criminal Justice Branch.

Will the Coroner release the name of an affected person to the public?

The Coroner may release the name of an affected person in the event of a fatal incident.

Does the IIO release the names of police officers it investigates?

A police officer’s name will generally not be released to the public, except:

  • If the police officer is criminally charged, the Criminal Justice Branch will release the name of the police officer
  • If the police officer is involved in a fatality which is brought to a coroner’s inquest, the police officer’s name will be made public during that process
  • If the police officer’s name has been previously publicly released and keeping the officer’s name confidential would serve no useful purpose (after consultation with the Privacy Commissioner).

When will IIO release information on a particular incident?

The IIO is committed to ensuring fair, unbiased investigations relating to each case falling within its jurisdiction. As such, the IIO will not, during the course of an investigation, make any public statement about the investigation unless such statement is aimed at preserving the integrity of the investigation or is required to ensure public confidence in police oversight. The IIO is committed to ensuring that, at the completion of any investigation, the public has the information necessary to determine whether the IIO investigation was thorough and complete, and the CCD’s decision relating to any case that is not forwarded to Crown Counsel for prosecution is reasonable. As such, the IIO will issue public reports, at the earliest available opportunity upon the conclusion of an investigation, to ensure transparency in investigations. Until an IIO investigation is complete, however, information specific to any case investigation will be limited in its production to the public or the media.

What type of information may be provided to an affected person during an investigation?

An affected person may receive updates that include the status of the file; however, nothing will be disclosed that could impact the integrity of the investigation.

What does “Embargoed Information” mean?

There will be times when the IIO provides an affected person and/or their families with information considered “embargoed”. Most often this information will be related to a decision that has been made by the Chief Civilian Director (CCD) and that is shared with parties before it is made public. This could include notice that the CCD is making a report to Crown Counsel or when an affected person is provided with an advanced copy of a public report.

In those cases, the IIO will ask that the information not be shared prior to the public release. If an affected person and/or their families have any questions about this, they should contact the Manager of Services to Affected Persons.

Who actually determines if an officer will be charged?

Crown Counsel makes charge approval decisions in British Columbia. The CCD does not make any recommendations in that regard.

What is the difference between Crown Counsel’s charging standard and the IIO’s statutory referral standard?

Under the provisions of Section 38.11 of the Police Act, the Chief Civilian Director is required to report a matter to the Criminal Justice Branch if, after an investigation, the Chief Civilian Director considers that an officer may have committed an offence.

The Chief Civilian Director does not make a recommendation on whether charges should be approved or what charges Crown Counsel should consider. Under the Crown Counsel Act, the Criminal Justice Branch has jurisdiction over the charge assessment and charge approval process. In approving charges, the Criminal Justice Branch must generally be satisfied not only that an offence may have been committed, but that the commission of an offence can be proven in court beyond a reasonable doubt. Criminal Justice Branch policy provides that in making this assessment Crown Counsel will apply a two-part test:

  1. there must be a substantial likelihood of conviction based on the evidence gathered by the investigating agency; and,
  2. a prosecution must be required in the public interest.

How long does it take to investigate (or resolve) an IIO incident?

There is no specific time frame that can be established for any investigation. Each incident is unique and the amount of time it will take to complete an investigation will depend on many factors including the size and location of the scene; the number of involved officers; the number of other witnesses; the need for and dependence on specialized reports; and, the need for opinions from subject matter experts.

How will I know what progress has been made on a file?

At any point during an investigation, affected persons’ should be encouraged to contact the IIO to obtain an update on their file.

Once an investigation is complete and if it is forwarded to Crown Counsel for further consideration, it can take some time for Crown Counsel to make a charging decision.

If Crown Counsel decides not to approve charges, the Criminal Justice Branch will issue a “Clear Statement” that provides a brief chronology of the evidence and the rationale for the decision.

If the CCD does not send the file to Crown, a public report is typically prepared and issued within 30 days of that decision being made.

What can an affected person do if he/she disagrees with the Chief Civilian Director’s decision?

An affected person and/or their family should discuss any concerns with the Manager of Services to Affected Persons. If that does not satisfy the questions or concerns, an affected person may request a meeting with the Chief Civilian Director. A final decision made by the Chief Civilian Director is potentially subject to judicial review.

Does the IIO help with any financial assistance during an IIO investigation?

The IIO does not have the authority to provide financial support to an affected person during an IIO investigation. The Manager of Services to Affected Persons may be able to assist an affected person with access to other resources and act as an advocate for services.

Do officers stay on active duty while the IIO investigation is on-going?

Each police department will make the decision on what happens to the officer during an IIO investigation. The IIO has no authority over and does not make public comments on the assignment status of any officers.