Civilian Oversight & Review of Policing in British Columbia
Policing in British Columbia is performed by both municipal police forces and the RCMP (under contract with the Province and communities). Ensuring that the police are accountable to the public is a role that is undertaken by several different agencies.
- The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) is a civilian-led body that will conduct investigations into incidents that result in ‘serious harm’ or death to members of the public that involve on and off duty police officers in British Columbia whether they are municipal officers, members of the RCMP, auxiliary or Special Provincial Constables.
(‘Serious harm’ is defined as follows: “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.”)
The Independent Investigations Office will be committed to ensuring fair and objective investigations with public reporting on its findings and recommendations. The IIO is notified by police agencies when an incident involving on or off duty officer (s) may have resulted in death or serious harm. The IIO will assess the information to determine if it falls within the jurisdiction.
The IIO does not have the mandate to investigate historical cases or to take reports from the public.
- The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC) is responsible for ensuring that complaints involving municipal police services are handled fairly and impartially. Under the Police Act, the police services are responsible for conducting investigations into the conduct of officers. The OPCC has the mandate to oversee and review those investigations. The OPCC is independent from all municipal forces and government ministries and reports directly to the BC Legislative Assembly.Members of the public may make a complaint directly with the OPCC.
- Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP (CPC) is an independent agency created by Parliament to ensure that public complaints made directly to them about the conduct of RCMP members are examined fairly and impartially and provide civilian oversight of RCMP members’ conduct in performing their policing duties. They report to the Minister of Public Safety in Ottawa
- B.C. Coroner’s Service is responsible for the investigation of all unnatural, sudden and unexpected, unexplained or unattended deaths. It makes recommendations to improve public safety and to prevent deaths in similar circumstances. Historically, a coroner’s inquest was called for in police custody deaths. In 2010, the B.C. Coroners Act was amended to remove the mandatory inquest provisions and discretion is left in the hands of the Chief Coroner to determine whether to call an inquest into such matters.
- Police Services Division, Ministry of Justice is responsible for ensuring adequate and effective levels of policing and law enforcement through central oversight of all policing in the province. They establish provincial policing standards for police services delivery and develop and coordinate police policy and associated legislation. Police Services Division is responsible for inspecting and reporting on the quality and standard of police services delivery and reporting on provincial crime and police data.
Municipal Police Forces are responsible for investigating complaints concerning the conduct of a member police officer with respect to breaches of the Code of Professional Conduct Regulation, BC Police Act.
The RCMP are responsible for investigating public complaints against RCMP members in the province as well as being responsible for investigations into breaches of the Code of Conduct, RCMP Act Regulations, and, are responsible for deciding disciplinary matters.