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.
The IIO does not have the authority to provide financial support to an affected person during an IIO investigation. The Affected Persons Liaison may be able to assist an affected person with access to other resources and act as an advocate for services.
An affected person and/or their family should discuss any concerns with the Affected Persons Liaison. 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.
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.
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.
Under the provisions of Section 38.11 of the Police Act, the Chief Civilian Director may report a matter to the Criminal Justice Branch if, after an investigation, the Chief Civilian Director considers that there are reasonable grounds to believe that an officer may have committed an offence under any enactment, including an enactment of Canada or another province.
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:
- there must be a substantial likelihood of conviction based on the evidence gathered by the investigating agency; and,
- a prosecution must be required in the public interest.
Crown Counsel makes charge approval decisions in British Columbia.
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 Affected Persons Liaison.
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.
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.