Complaints Commission Releases Report on Policing in Northern British Columbia

Ottawa - 2017-02-16

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Mr. Ian McPhail, Chairperson of the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP (Commission), today released the Commission's report on its Chairperson-initiated complaint and public interest investigation into policing in northern British Columbia.

Launched in consideration of concerns raised by individuals and various human rights and civil liberties organizations, the investigation examined RCMP member conduct relating to:

  • the policing of public intoxication;
  • the incidence of cross gender police searches;
  • the use of force;
  • the handling of files involving youth; and
  • the handling of missing persons reports and domestic violence reports.

Commission investigators reviewed over 100,000 pages of documentation, including RCMP occurrence reports, policies and procedures. Numerous interviews were also conducted with community members, human rights and civil liberties organizations, and RCMP members, in 21 communities in northern British Columbia.

"The Commission's investigation did not result in findings of systemic misconduct by RCMP members in northern British Columbia," said Mr. McPhail. "It did, however, find several policy and reporting weaknesses, issues with policy compliance by members, and the need for more robust training and supervision."

"These problems are not insignificant, as they directly affect RCMP accountability," added Mr. McPhail.

The Commission's report makes 45 findings and 31 recommendations aimed at enhancing RCMP transparency and accountability through improved policies, procedures, and training, enhanced supervisory review, and better reporting.

The community engagement carried out by the Commission, a key element of its investigation, revealed a perception of RCMP bias against Indigenous people, and a lack of trust in the RCMP in communities throughout the region. Engagement activities also highlighted a lack of public awareness of the Commission, its role and the public complaint process.

"The Commission has recognized the need to build more effective relationships with communities served by the RCMP. In an effort to do so, we have opened an office in British Columbia to enhance the Commission's presence, increase public awareness of our role, and ensure that we are positioned to respond to public concerns and complaints about RCMP policing in British Columbia, particularly with respect to Indigenous peoples and communities," said Mr. McPhail.

A closer relationship with communities will assist the Commission in detecting trends and systemic problems.

"By raising awareness of the Commission and its mandate, and taking a more direct involvement in the investigation of public complaints, we hope to improve public confidence in both the RCMP and the public complaint process," said Mr. McPhail.

The full report, including all the Commission's findings and recommendations, and the RCMP's response, is available on the Commission's website along with additional information on the investigation and the Commission's work in British Columbia.

The Commission is an independent agency, distinct and independent from the RCMP, created by Parliament to ensure that public complaints made about the conduct of RCMP members are examined fairly and impartially.

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