FAQ Group: General FAQs about the IIO

Does the IIO investigate members of the public?

No. The IIO only has jurisdiction to investigate on- or off-duty 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.

How do you establish serious harm?

Serious harm is determined by reviewing an Affected Person’s medical records. An IIO Investigator or Affected Persons Liaison will usually request the Affected Person’s consent to the release of their medical records. This is an important aspect of the IIO investigation.

What does serious harm mean?

Serious harm, as defined in Part 11 of the Police Act, means 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.

What is the IIO and what does it investigate?

The IIO is a civilian-led investigatory body mandated to investigate incidents where serious harm or death has occurred, and there is a connection to police action or inaction. Initial investigative steps will seek to confirm that the level of injury and connection are met, and if they are not, the IIO will usually discontinue its investigation. This occurs in approximately 75-85% of investigations.

Where both serious harm or death are confirmed to have occurred, and a connection to police action or inaction exists, the investigation will continue and culminate in a file review where all evidence is examined to determine if reasonable grounds to believe an officer may have committed an offence exist.

The Chief Civilian Director (CCD) considers all evidence collected during the investigation to determine whether there are reasonable grounds to believe any officers may have committed an offence. The IIO derives its authority from the Police Act.

The IIO was established in 2012 in response to recommendations arising from public inquiries led by Justices Braidwood and Davies. These inquiries highlighted the need for independent police oversight to increase public confidence, accountability and transparency in policing in British Columbia.

Will the IIO ever take on historical cases?

The IIO investigates incidents that occurred after the office became operational on September 10, 2012. Given the provisions of the Police Act, it is unlikely that incidents that occurred before this date will be investigated by the IIO.

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 the IIO use police facilities during an investigation?

There are some circumstances under which IIO Investigators will use police facilities in order to ensure a timely, competent investigation. The IIO will seek to interview civilian witnesses at a neutral location; however, if there is no objection by the witness, for the sake of convenience the interview may be conducted at a police facility. The IIO also makes regular use of provincial government offices when required.

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