POLICE AND SECURITY
Administrative complaint processes typically exist for law enforcement agencies and their officers. The quality of these processes vary. For complainants seeking an impartial hearing, the BCCLA recommends a civil suit against the police and private security rather than make a complaint. Typically lawsuits against the police hinge on unlawful detention, unlawful arrest, unlawful search or unlawful seizure. To read more about suing the police and private security in small claims court, Pivot Legal Society has produced a guidebook. For the BCCLA position on the police complaint process and civil suits, please see below. To make a complaint, please choose from the following options:
BCCLA Position on Police Complaints
The BCCLA has an active boycott against both the RCMP and municipal police complaint processes where civil remedies in court are available. After many years of assisting complainants and launching its own complaints, the BCCLA has concluded that the process is fundamentally flawed and does not work. The BCCLA continues to utilise the complaint process for the purposes of information, law reform and public education.
The BCCLA believes that the police have failed with their internal investigations. The process does not provide adequate or impartial investigation, and the BCCLA chooses not to endorse such a process by continuing to offer assistance to unsuspecting complainants. The complaints process appears to offer lip service to the notion of accountability, and sometimes the complaint process shields officers from responsibility and discipline.
The Police Act, and especially the RCMP Act, are flawed and outdated models of accountability. Some degree of change has been seen from the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner and the provincial government. So far there has been little progress from the RCMP or the federal government. This leaves the courts as the most impartial forum for police complaints to be heard. With the help of a guidebook produced by Pivot Legal Society, the BCCLA recommends that people sue the police, rather than file a police complaint, if they’re seeking an impartial and fair hearing.
While the BCCLA has a long history with the police complaint process, we have little experience with other complaint processes against law enforcement or private security. There is a formal complaint process for CSIS complaints overseen by an independent investigative body. There is also a formal complaint process through the Solicitor General for complaints about private security and special provincial constables, but the BCCLA is skeptical of these processes and as with police complaints, the BCCLA advises people to use the courts if they’re seeking accountability. The complaint processes for Border Services and Fisheries & Oceans is practically nonexistent, for they are entirely informal. Curiously, there is a more defined code of conduct and process for complaints for Dental Hygienists than CBSA and DFO officers.