Facts and Complaint
A complainant filed a complaint with the Complaints Commission against a Military Police investigator alleging that he had not properly investigated her complaint of alleged harassment against another Military Police member. She stated that the investigator had not met with the complainant to obtain a statement nor did he question any of the numerous witnesses. The complaint was forwarded to the Deputy Provost Marshal, Professional Standards who has the initial responsibility under the National Defence Act for the handling of conduct complaints.
The complaint of alleged harassment, comprising assault, threats and racism, was lodged with the Military Police against a member for an incident that had occurred several years previously. There was the potential to lay charges under the Criminal Code and the complainant was informed by the investigator that he had to speak with Crown counsel before proceeding with the investigation. After Crown counsel indicated that they would not proceed with criminal charges (the deadline for doing so having long passed), the Military Police investigator informed the complainant that he would not investigate the complaint. After further inquiring about the status of the conduct complaint, the complainant was told that the police service could not investigate one of its own members
Decision of the Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards on the handling of the complaint
After reviewing the documentation concerning the complaint, the Deputy Provost Marshal, Professional Standards informed the complainant that based on section 250.28(c) of the National Defence Act he would not proceed with an investigation.
Section 250.28(2) of the Act provides that the Provost Marshal
“may direct that no investigation of a conduct complaint be started or that an investigation be ended if, in the opinion of the Provost Marshal,
(c) having regard to all the circumstances, investigation or further investigation is not necessary or reasonably practicable”
Request for Review by the Complaints Commission
The Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards also informed the complainant that, if not satisfied, she had the right to request the Complaints Commission to review this decision. As the complainant was dissatisfied with the answers of the Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards she asked that her complaint be referred to the Complaints Commission.
Conclusions of the of the Chairperson of the Complaints Commission
- Filing of complaint with the Military Police
The Complaints Commission found that the Military Police failed to acknowledge receipt of the complaint and failed to inform the Provost Marshal and the Complaints Commission, as they are required to do. The Chairperson considers that the Military Police must ensure that a complainant's rights are observed. This implies that the Military Police must not only forward the complaint to the Provost Marshal or the Complaints Commission for processing, but also must inform complainants of their rights and assist them if necessary. To this end the Chairperson recommends that members of the Military Police be made aware of their rights and obligations under part IV of the National Defence Act.
- Allegations regarding conduct of investigation
During the course of his investigation, the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service investigator proceeded to discuss with Crown counsel the possibility of laying criminal charges. A police officer has broad discretion in the control of his investigation but he is only required to collect the information and testimony he considers essential. It would be in keeping with established practice for the investigator to meet with the complainant, take a statement and prepare a detailed report. The Chairperson of the Complaints Commission disagrees with the conclusion of the Deputy Provost Marshal, Professional Standards that the investigator was right to seek an opinion or a decision from Crown counsel before deciding to conduct an investigation. The Chairperson considers that the best procedure for a Military Police officer working in a civil jurisdiction where he does not have authority to lay charges is to submit a complete file, including statements by complainants and witnesses, to the Crown prosecutor who will then be able to make an informed decision regarding the laying of charges. However, in the circumstances of this case the Chairperson considers that a more extensive investigation into the allegations of harassment was not necessary or useful. She also accepts the decision of the Deputy Provost Marshal, Professional Standards, not to order an investigation into the conduct of the Military Police investigator.
Complaints Commission's Response following the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal's Notification
Although the Complaints Commission disagreed with certain comments made by the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal in her notification, it was satisfied in general with the notification and considered that no additional recommendations were required.
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