FAQ Group: Police

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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