Printer-friendly version   

The Best Place on Earth

NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release
2011PREM0052-000555

May 17, 2011

Office of the Premier
Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General

 

 

Civilian office to investigate serious police incidents

 

VICTORIA – A new, independent, civilian-led office will conduct criminal investigations into incidents that involve B.C. police officers and result in death or serious harm, Premier Christy Clark announced today. 

 

“It is critical that British Columbians have confidence in our police and that the police are accountable to them,” said Premier Clark. “This legislation is an historic step for policing in B.C. and will strengthen public faith in the dedicated officers who work so hard to keep our families safe.” 

 

Bill 12 will create an Independent Investigations Office, which will fulfil a central recommendation of the Braidwood Commission and strengthen public confidence in police. 

 

The office will be the lead investigative agency in cases under its mandate, interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence. Specifically, it will:

·         Be led by a civilian who has never served as a police officer.

·         Conduct criminal investigations into police-related incidents involving death or serious harm, and will be able to do investigations involving other serious incidents.

·         Be able to investigate members of all B.C. police agencies, including independent municipal departments and the RCMP.

·         Have its powers entrenched in legislation.

·         Report to the Ministry of Attorney General.

 

“Justice Braidwood said that the most important weapon in the arsenal of the police is public support,” said Shirley Bond, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “The government agrees – as do the police in B.C., who have endorsed an independent agency to do these difficult investigations.”

 

“The B.C. Government supports Commissioner Braidwood’s recommendation that we establish an independent civilian office to investigate serious incidents involving police officers,” said Attorney General Barry Penner. “The establishment of this new office should help build public confidence that allegations against police are investigated in an impartial way.”

 

B.C.’s office will investigate a broad range of serious police-involved incidents and be more independent than those in other provinces such as Alberta and Ontario, reporting to the Attorney General rather than the minister responsible for policing.

 

In addition, the legislation will allow the office’s civilian director to appoint a civilian monitor with access to all information on an investigation. The monitor will be free to raise concerns to the director about the integrity of an investigation and submit a final report within 30 days. 

The Province is currently assessing the office’s location, budget and staffing requirements, and expects the office to be operational by the end of 2011. 

 

 

A backgrounder follows.

 

 

Contacts:

 

Chris Olsen

Press Secretary

Office of the Premier

604 220-1640

 

Government Communications and Public Engagement

Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General

250 356-6961

 

 


BACKGROUNDER

For Immediate Release
2011PREM0052-000555

May 17, 2011

Office of the Premier
Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General

 

 

Independent Investigations Office responds to Braidwood

 

In his June 2010 report, “Why? The Robert Dziekanski Tragedy,” Justice Thomas Braidwood recommended that B.C. develop a civilian-based criminal investigative body, which he suggested be named the Independent Investigation Office (IIO). 

 

If, after an investigation is concluded, the chief civilian director believes that an officer may have committed a criminal offence, the director must report the matter to Crown counsel. The Criminal Justice Branch will be responsible for reviewing any reports submitted for charge assessment.

 

IIO investigators will have status equivalent to that of police officers. The office’s director will have the discretion to hire ex-police officers as investigators, as long as they have not served as a police officer in B.C. within the past five years. This will ensure the office has sufficient investigative skills and capacity to achieve its mandate in its initial, formative years while it progresses to a fully civilian investigative staff.

 

Before Jan. 1, 2015, a special committee of the legislature will conduct a review of the office’s administration and general operations. The committee will also review the chief civilian director’s progress towards the goal of having an IIO that is staffed entirely with employees and investigators who have never served as officers or members of a police or law enforcement agency.  

 

The Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner, an independent officer of the legislature, will investigate incidents or complaints that involve investigative staff from the Independent Investigations Office.

 

Learn More:

B.C.’s Police Act is available online at:  www.qp.gov.bc.ca/police/

Reports of the Braidwood Commissions of Inquiry are at:  www.braidwoodinquiry.ca/

 

 

Contacts:

 

Chris Olsen

Press Secretary

Office of the Premier

604 220-1640

 

Government Communications and Public Engagement

Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General

250 356-6961

 

 

Connect with the Province of B.C. at: www.gov.bc.ca/connect