FAQ Group: General FAQs about the IIO

How many IIO Investigators are former police officers?

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.

What is the IIO’s referral standard to submit an investigation to Crown Counsel for consideration of charges?

The IIO’s referral standard is similar to the traditional referral standard for police agencies in British Columbia. The Chief Civilian Director may forward an investigation to Crown Counsel where reasonable grounds to believe an offence may have been committed exist. To lay charges, Crown Counsel must be satisfied that there is a substantial likelihood of conviction based on evidence gathered by the IIO, and that the prosecution is in the public interest.

What happens at the end of an IIO investigation?

At the conclusion of an investigation, if the Chief Civilian Director (CCD) has reasonable grounds to believe that an officer may have committed an offence, the CCD may refer the matter to Crown Counsel with the BC Prosecution Service for consideration of charges. The IIO will then release an information bulletin stating that the IIO has filed a report to Crown Counsel, including a brief summary of the incident. If Crown Counsel does not approve charges. the BC Prosecution Service will issue a Clear Statement which includes a more detailed narrative of the incident, as well as their rationale for the decision not to approve charges. If Crown Counsel does approve charges, they will issue a brief statement indicating the offence(s) charged. The IIO will not comment on a case when it is with Crown.

If the CCD determines the evidence does not support a referral to Crown Counsel, they may issue a public report summarizing the investigation and explaining the decision where it is in the public interest to do so. Where the matter is the subject of a concurrent investigation or court case, the IIO may be unable to release a full report until that case is concluded. A concluding information bulletin may be published in lieu of a public report where the privacy interests of the involved parties outweighs the public interest. These releases contain less detailed information to protect the privacy of the parties involved while still providing the public some accounting of the event.

Personal information about an officer, an Affected Person, a witness, or any other person who may have been involved will not be included in any IIO-issued statements or reports, except in rare cases where the public interest in disclosure outweighs the privacy interests of the person. For more information regarding the decision to anonymize IIO reporting, please refer to the Canadian Civilian Oversight Agencies Joint Statement on Release of Names.

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.

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