Complaints Against the RCMP (Script 220)

From Clicklaw Wikibooks

This script explains how to make a complaint against the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The RCMP serves most BC municipalities, towns, districts, and outlying areas. But the following 11 cities have their own police force: Vancouver, Victoria (including Esquimalt), New Westminster, West Vancouver, Delta, Port Moody, Central Saanich, Abbotsford, Nelson, Oak Bay, and Saanich. If you have a complaint about the police in any of these places, or against the Organized Crime Agency of BC or the Stl’atl’imx Tribal Police, check script 221, called “Complaints Against Municipal Police”.

Who can make a complaint?

Anyone with some connection to the conduct of an RCMP officer can make a complaint against the officer. A connection means that the officer’s conduct affected you or someone you’re acting for. Or you were present when the conduct occurred or suffered some harm or loss from it. A complaint analyst at the Commission (explained in the next section) assesses each case to decide if there’s a reasonable connection.

How do you make a complaint against the RCMP?

You make a complaint to the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP, or at an RCMP office. The Commission is an independent federal agency that responds to complaints against RCMP officers. The Commission is not part of the RCMP. It is neutral and does not take sides in a dispute. The Commission works in English and French. It also has interpretation services for other languages.

You can make a complaint online, or by phone, fax, or mail.

  • By phone—call the Commission at 604.501.4080. Its toll-free number is 1.800.665.6878. And its TTY toll-free number is 1.866.432.5837. It’s open Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, Eastern standard time.
Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP
National Intake Office
PO Box 1722, Station B
Ottawa ON K1P 0B3

Make your complaint as soon as possible after an incident, while memories are fresh and evidence is still available. The deadline to complain is one year from the date of an incident. The Commission can extend the deadline if it decides there’s a good reason.

What does the Commission do with a complaint?

The Commission usually sends a complaint to the RCMP to investigate (sometimes the Commission will investigate a complaint itself). The RCMP investigates your complaint and then reports to you in writing. If you are satisfied with the report, that’s the end of the complaint.

What if you are not satisfied with the RCMP report on your complaint?

You can ask the Commission to review your complaint. You can request a review online or by phone, fax, or mail (as you can file a complaint). The Commission website explains the process.

You have 60 days from when you receive the RCMP report to request a review. The Commission can extend that time if it decides there is a good reason. The Commission will get the necessary information from the RCMP and review the RCMP report. During its review, the Commission can do any of the following things:

  • Review the complaint without investigating further
  • Ask the RCMP to investigate further
  • Do its own investigation
  • Hold a public hearing

If the Commission is satisfied with the RCMP report, it sends you a final report with its reasons. It also sends its report to the Minister of Public Safety Canada (the Minister), the RCMP Commissioner, and the officer you complained about. That’s the end of the process

If the Commission is not satisfied with the RCMP report, it sends an interim report to the RCMP Commissioner and the Minister. The RCMP Commissioner will reply to it, explaining what the RCMP will do, if anything. The Commission then sends a final report to you, the Minister, the RCMP Commissioner, and the RCMP officer.

Two other possibilities, besides filing a complaint with the Commission

Sue the police

If an RCMP officer injured you, caused you property damage, or violated your rights, you may be able to sue the officer or the RCMP (or both) in civil court. Normally, you sue in the BC Supreme Court. You should get legal advice promptly in this case—there is a deadline for suing.

Criminal charges

If you say that an RCMP officer committed a crime or broke a law, the RCMP may investigate. The result of the investigation may go to the Regional Crown Counsel—the senior prosecutor for the area—to decide whether to charge the officer with a crime. If the police don’t send a report to the prosecutor, or the prosecutor decides not to charge the officer, you can still go to a Justice of the Peace and ask that the officer be charged. For more information, check script 215, called “Charging Someone with a Criminal Offence”.

[updated August 2017]

The above was last reviewed for accuracy by Mona Muker and edited by John Blois.

© Copyright 2018, Canadian Bar Association British Columbia Branch. Dial-A-Law is a registered trademark owned by Canadian Bar Association British Columbia Branch, a non-profit membership corporation.

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